Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common childhood disease that pediatricians, child care centers and preschools see in the summer and early fall.
Most parents want to know what exactly is hand, foot and mouth disease, how to help their children cope with the discomfort it causes, and especially when children can return to their child care center or school. Here are answers to frequently asked questions.
What is hand, foot and mouth disease?
Despite having a somewhat worrisome name, hand, foot and mouth disease is a common and contagious disease caused by different viruses. It usually affects infants and children under 5 years of age, but older children and adults can also contract.
what are the signs and symptoms?
From the moment the child is exposed to the disease hand, foot and mouth, making three to six days for the first symptoms appear . This is called the incubation period. It usually begins with fever, sore throat and runny nose, as is the case with the common cold, but then a rash and small blisters begin to appear on the following parts of the body:
1. In the mouth
- On the inside of the cheeks
- In the gums
- On the sides of the tongue
- In the upper part of the mouth
2. In the fingers
3. In the palms of the hands
4. On the soles of the feet
5. On the buttocks
Note : One, several or all of these body parts may have blisters.
The symptoms are worse in the first few days, but usually disappear within a week. Scaling on the fingers and toes can happen 1 to 2 weeks later, but it is harmless.
How is hand, foot and mouth disease diagnosed?
Your pediatrician can tell you if your child has hand-, foot, and mouth disease based on the symptoms you are describing and looking at mouth ulcers and rash. Depending on the severity of the child’s symptoms, the pediatrician can collect samples from the child’s throat and send them for laboratory tests.If your child is diagnosed with the disease of hand, foot and mouth, be sure to inform your child care provider or school. They may need to inform other parents and staff members to be aware of the symptoms.
Which is the treatment?
There is no drug to treat or cure hand, foot and mouth disease. The only thing parents can do is relieve fever and pain with acetaminophen or ibuprofen . Call your pediatrician if your child has a fever that lasts for more than 3 days or if he or she is not drinking fluids.
For the pain of the mouth:
In children over 1 year old, parents can consult with their doctor as there are a variety of liquid remedies that may be good for relieving pain from mouth ulcers. Do not use ordinary mouthwashes as they may burn.
- From 1 to 6 years : Put a few drops into the child’s mouth or a cotton swab.
- Over 6 years : Use a teaspoon (5 ml) as a mouthwash. Keep it in the blisters of the mouth as long as possible. Then make sure the child spits it out or swallows it.
Children with hand, foot and mouth disease should drink enough fluids. Call your pediatrician now or go to an emergency room if you think your child is dehydrated. For more information, read: Dehydration in infants and children.
How long is it contagious?
It is usually more contagious during the first week of illness. However, children who have hand, foot and mouth disease can “excrete” or shed virus from the respiratory tract (nose, mouth and lungs) for 1 to 3 weeks and in the stool for weeks or months after onset Of the infection.
How is hand, foot and mouth disease spread?
The virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease usually spreads through person-to-person contact in several ways:
- Respiratory route
- Fecal-oral route
How can I help prevent and control the spread of hand, foot and mouth disease?
- Teach your children to cover their mouth and nose with a tissue when they sneeze or cough as much as possible or with the sleeve of their shirt if they do not have a tissue available.
- Teach everyone to wash their hands after using tissues or have been in contact with mucous secretion. Change or cover contaminated clothing.
- Wash your hands after changing diapers. Parents can spread the virus to other surfaces when they come in contact with feces, ampoule fluid or saliva.
- Prevent food, beverages, and personal items your child can touch with their mouths, such as silverware, toothbrushes, and towels.
- Protect the other children in your home. Make sure they do not come in contact with the child who is infected. Kissing, hugging and sharing glasses and cutlery can spread the infection quickly. If your children share a room, separate them while the sick child is contagious.
- Disinfect your child’s often touched surfaces, this can help prevent a sibling from contracting hand, foot, and mouth disease (and it is possible to do so if he or she is careful and keeps surfaces clean).