Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral illness that occurs commonly in children, although it may be seen in adults as well. Hand, foot, and mouth disease is contagious so children should be kept home from school or other group activities during the first few days of infection
Cause of hand foot and mouth disease:
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by a group of viruses called enteroviruses. The most common enterovirus to cause hand, foot, and mouth disease is coxsackie virus A16. The virus is spread from direct person to person contact. Secretions from the nose and throat as well as feces are the most common ways of transmitting the infection. In general, hand, foot and mouth disease is not believed to be spread through airborne contact. Symptoms usually appear between 3-7 days of exposure.
Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease:
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is characterized by blisters of the hand, foot, and mouth. The blisters can be seen inside of the mouth on the cheeks, tongue, and gums. A skin rash may also occur. Blisters may be found on other parts of the body including the diaper area. Fever is often present and is frequently the first symptom to appear. Other symptoms include lack of appetite, malaise, sore throat, cough, occasionally diarrhea, and other flu-like symptoms.
Treatment of hand, foot, and mouth disease:
Since hand, foot, and mouth disease is a virus there is no specific treatment available. Your doctor may recommend tylenol or motrin to help with the associated fever and pain. A mild local anesthetic, such as lidocaine, may be prescribed if blisters are particularly painful. Hand, foot, and mouth disease will usually run its course within 7-10 days.
Prevention of hand, foot, and mouth disease:
The number one way to prevent infection of hand, foot, and mouth disease or any viral infection is frequent hand washing. Children should be taught to wash their hands regularly particularly after using the bathroom and before meals. Caregivers should be careful to wash their hands after each and every diaper change. Children should be taught to cover their mouth and nose when they cough with a tissue if possible to eliminate the amount of germs on their hands. If a tissue isn't available teach children to cover their mouth with their upper arm instead of their hands. Toys and other surfaces children come in contact with regularly should be cleaned with a disinfectant.