Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a viral infection common in children. As the name suggests it is characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. It affects mostly children younger than age 5.
- Sore throat
- A general feeling of discomfort and illness
- Painful, red, lesions on the tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks
- A red rash, sometimes with blistering, on the palms, soles and sometimes the buttocks
- Irritability in young children
- Loss of appetite
It takes three to six days for the symptoms to appear starting with a fever and sore throat then it progresses into painful sores and rashes.
When to see a doctor
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a minor illness and usually clears off within a few days to a week. If symptoms get worse like your child cannot take in enough fluids because of the mouth and throat sores and becomes dehydrated, or sores persist, then its best to visit your doctor.
Causes of Hand-foot-and-mouth disease
The disease usually spreads through contact with a person who carries the coxsackievirus A16. This often happens in schools or other places where young children get together. Older children and adults often develop a resistance to the virus and therefore don’t cause children to get infected.
How to avoid getting infected
There’s no special treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Since it’s contagious it is best your child washes hands regularly and avoids close contact with somebody infected.
Keep children with hand-foot-and-mouth disease out of school until the fever is gone and mouth sores have healed.
Show your children how to practice good hygiene and how to keep themselves clean.
How long is the virus contagious
Although a child is most contagious with hand-foot-and-mouth disease during the first week of the illness, the virus can remain in his or her body for weeks after the symptoms are gone. The usual period from initial infection to the onset of signs and symptoms (incubation period) is three to six days.