As it is a very contagious disease, it is important to take proper precautions. Check out the various causes and symptoms, to keep your child safe.
What Is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?
Hand foot mouth disease is a condition in which your child will have sores on various areas of the body, such as on the hands, feet, mouth, soles of the feet, palms, hips, legs and even the gums. While the disease can happen any time of the year, it is most common during the autumn and summer months. Also, it is extremely common during school reopening.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection caused by a virus known as enterovirus. Here are some of the most common causes of the disease:
- Your child comes in contact with an infected person who coughs or sneezes.
- Your child comes in contact with infected stool, especially during a diaper change (often the case in day care or kindergarten).
- Your child touches an infected surface and puts hand in the mouth.
Once your child gets affected with the virus, it will take about 3 to 6 days for the first symptoms to show up. The entire time when the virus resides in your child’s body without any visible symptoms is called the incubation period. Here are some symptoms that you can watch out for:
- Feeling excessively tired or sleepy even after proper rest and sleep.
- Starts with a mild fever that could go up to between 101 and 103 degree.
- Sores or blisters appear on the above mentioned areas, 2 to 3 days after the fever begins.
- The sores or blisters break and sometimes form a crust.
In most cases, there are hardly any symptoms and you may not notice anything unusual. In case of fever and sores, they can go off within a week without any need of medication.
Please remember that till date there is no vaccination or medication that can protect your child from the virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease. The only way you can keep your child safe is by taking the right precautionary measures. Here are some things you can follow and teach your child that will help to guard against the virus and the disease:
- Always wash hands with soap after using the toilet, or even after a diaper change.
- Regularly clean all surfaces with a proper disinfectant.
- Keep all toys clean and regularly wash them with warm water and disinfectant or soap.
- Teach your child (especially very young ones) to always cover the mouth while sneezing and coughing and then washing hands. Also, teach them not to share food with other children as it can spread disease more easily.
- Ask all family members to refrain from kissing your child when they have a cold or cough. Also, make it a practice to not allow anyone from kissing your child on the face.
How To Ease Your Child’s Discomfort With The Disease
If your child does get affected with the hand, foot and mouth disease, it can get quite painful and uncomfortable. Here are a few ways in which you can help ease the recovery process:
- Keep your child hydrated by giving water and fluids through the day. If it gets difficult to swallow due to painful sores in the mouth, give fluids in small sips. Your child will also find comfort by sucking on ice lollies.
- Some over the counter (OTC) medications can help bring down the pain and fever, but make sure you first check with the doctor to be absolutely sure.
As there is no specific medication or treatment to cure the disease, the doctor will most likely ask for a stool or blood sample, in addition to a throat swab. Speak to your child’s doctor the moment you notice the symptoms so that you can help your child right from the start.