Fever with Painful Red Blisters in the mouth – How Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Spreads?
Is your child having fever, loss of appetite and mouth ulcers? Hygiene plays an important role in our day to day life. And when it comes to health of our children, the word hygiene has to be taken more seriously. Failing to comply with it can increase the chances of a number of diseases. We will discuss one such infectious disorder in this story.
Hand, foot and mouth disease
HFMD or Hand, Foot and Mouth disease is a viral infection characterized by sores or blisters in the mouth with rashes on hands and feet. The infection commonly occurs in early childhood and is highly contagious in nature. It can spread from individual to individual by directly coming in contact with contaminated surfaces, utensils, unwashed hands, saliva of the infected person, feces and through respiratory secretions.
The disease generally affects hands, mouth and foot, hence the name.
Are children more vulnerable to this disease?
Hand, Foot and Mouth disease commonly occurs in school going kindergarten children, usually under the age of 5. But it can impact people of all ages and people with weak immune system. The condition is basically common in child care settings since diapers are frequently changed and small children usually put their hands in mouth. The outbreak is common during monsoon and till the onset of winter.
Difference between Hand, Foot and Mouth disease and chickenpox
According to pediatrician Sharad Agarkhedkar, Umarji Mother & Child Care, the main difference between the two is that in chickenpox rashes cause mild itching while Hands, Foot and Mouth disease does not cause any itching. It is also not to be confused with the foot and mouth disease which is a viral disease found commonly in farm animals.
What causes Hand, Foot and Mouth disease? Is it mild or severe?
The disease is caused by coxsackievirus A16 and enterovirus 71. Since it can be caused by more than one virus, a child can get the disease more than once. Anyone who is infected with the virus can spread it to others without knowing it.
According to Pediatrician Sanjay Lalwani, president of Indian Academy of Pediatricians, Pune, the condition is self-limited means it goes away on its own without any treatment. The oral healing takes about 4-5 days while the skin lesions go away within 2 weeks. And also, the rashes do not leave any scars.
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Signs and symptoms to check out
The symptoms usually start to develop 3-7 days after coming in contact with the infection. This is the incubation period and fever is generally the first sign of the disease. The fever is then followed by:
- Sore throat
- Poor appetite
- Irritability in infants
- Painful red blisters or sores in the mouth
- Red rashes (without itching) on hands and feet
The symptoms usually last three to six days, however, the virus can still remain the body up to weeks after the eradication of symptoms.
Are there any complications of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease?
Dehydration is the most common problem faced by patient of hand-foot-and-mouth disease. The sickness can lead to sores in the mouth and the throat resulting in painful swallowing. Though it’s a mild condition and goes away in a few days, a rare form of cocksackie virus can affect the brain and spinal cord and cause:
- Viral meningitis – Inflammation of the membranes and fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord
- Encephalitis – Inflammation of the brain
Diagnosis of Hand, Foot and Mouth disease
Typically, the doctor evaluates the age, pattern and appearance of symptoms to diagnose the condition. A simple physical examination can do the job most of the time. The doctor might also test the throat swab or take a sample of stool to check for the presence of the virus.
Treatment – Medicinal and home remedies
Generally, there is no need for any treatment as the infection can go away on its own within 7-10 days. However, the pediatrician might recommend certain symptoms-easing treatments during the course of infection. These measures can be:
- Over the counter or prescribed topical ointments for blisters and rashes
- Syrups and lozenges to ease pain in throat
- Pain reliever such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen for headaches
One can also treat the condition and make symptoms less bothersome at home by following below mentioned tips:
- Have cold treats such as ice cream, smoothies or sherbet
- Suck on ice or popsicles
- Avoid salty and spicy foods
- Avoid citrus drinks and soda
- Drink cold beverages
- Rinse mouth with warm after several times, especially after meals
Prevention – Hygiene is the best cure
Precaution is better than cure and it stands true in terms of Hand, Mouth and Foot disease. If you practice good hygiene and teach the same to your kids, it’s the best weapon against this disease and many other. Some of the prevention tips are:
- Regular hand wash with hot water and soap, especially after before and meals, after using toilets and before going out in public.
- Children should be trained to not to put their hands in their mouth, toys or any other objects.
- Regularly disinfect pacifiers, toys and other objects used by children frequently. Use soap, diluted solution or hot water for cleaning.
- If the child is experiencing symptoms, don’t send him/her to school to help prevent the spread of the disease to other children.
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a common infection among the children and need not to be taken seriously. There is no specific treatment and the affected person can get completely ok after 5-7 days of onset of the symptoms. Reinfection can occur but it is not common as the body builds up immunity against the virus.
If your child is affected by the disease, make sure he or she goes to school fever and symptoms free. If you are not sure if your child is contagious, talk to your pediatrician to confirm that.