Hand-foot-and-mouth disease

What is Hand-foot-and-mouth disease ?

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is an infectious disease that causes bubbles type sores on the feet, hands, legs, in or out the mouth and even sometimes on buttocks.

Hand-foot-and-mouth diseaseHand-foot-and-mouth disease is an infection caused by the coxsackievirus A16. It mainly affects young children but can occur at any age. Outbreaks are most common during the summer and fall.

What are the symptoms of Hand-foot-and-mouth disease ?

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease usually causes :

  • fever,
  • headaches,
  • sore throat,
  • loss of appetite,
  • lack of energy,
  • vomiting or diarrhoea,
  • Small painful ulcers in the mouth,
  • a rash that has the appearance of red spots often topped with small bulbs, which are appearing on the palms, soles, buttocks and sometimes other body parts.

How does Hand-foot-and-mouth disease spread?

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most contagious during the first week of illness. It spreads through contact with saliva or faeces of an infected person. Germs can be deposited on the hands of a person or object, and then be transferred to the mouth and cause infection. The virus can be found in the stool of an individual to 4 weeks after onset of the disease.

The hand washing is the best way to avoid transmission of the infection. Also teach children to wash their hands well and often to avoid Hand, foot and mouth disease.

What can parents do to save children from Hand-foot-and-mouth disease?

  • There is no treatment to cure the infection. The antibiotics will not help to cure. Antibiotics do not work because the infection is caused by a virus. (Antibiotics treat infections caused by bacteria, not viruses.) The disease can last 7 to 10 days.
  • Make sure your child is comfortable and offer him plenty of food and liquids. If there are abscesses in the mouth, offer cold and neutral liquids, such as milk or water. Do not give juice, which will cause a burning sensation in the mouth.
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce the discomfort caused by abscesses in the mouth. Sometimes the pain is so important that your doctor will prescribe a painkiller.
  • Make sure the people in your home wash their hands with soap and water before and after changing the diaper, blowing your nose, using the toilet and before and after preparing and eating food.
  • Do not pierce the blisters or bubbles. They heal themselves.
  • Your child can attend school or child care if he feels well enough to participate in activities.
  • Regularly wash toys and surfaces of your home.

Call your doctor if your child is suffering from Hand-foot-and-mouth disease:

Vomits and has signs of dehydration, such as:

  • lack of tears when crying,
  • skin, dry mouth and tongue,
  • decreased urine (pee) (fewer than 4 wet diapers in 24 hours).
  • breathe quickly.
  • has big sore throat.
  • some major headaches, especially if there is vomiting, is confused or is of unusual drowsiness.

Risk of Hand-foot-and-mouth disease for pregnant women?

There is debate as to any congenital disorders related to Coxsackie viral infections and pregnancy. Pregnant women should consult their obstetrician for further information.

Image : health-writings

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