Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common disease in children under the age of 5, but can occur at any age. It is caused by a virus and is highly contagious. The virus is often spread through fecal-oral transmission or even through secretion from the nose and mouth of an infected person.
What does it look like?
As the name suggest, these children develop painful, red, blisters/ulcers in the mouth, on the tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks as well as a red rash, sometimes with sores/ulcers, on the palm of the hands and sole of the feet.
Hence the given the name HAND-FOOT-MOUTH DISEASE. This rash may also occur in
the diaper area; the buttocks. It does not itch but can be quite painful and
uncomfortable for the child.
Moreover, children may complain of tiredness and weakness, feeling unwell, sore
throat and may have a fever. Some infants also tend to be irritable and may have
decreased or loss of appetite.
How is it treated?
Like most viruses the symptoms are self-limiting and usually resolve on their own
Ensure the child have adequate fluid intake to prevent dehydration, knowing that
cold liquids will be more soothing whilst hot, spicy foods and drink may bring
Pain and fever may be treated with acetaminophen eg panadol, paracetomol, calpol,
tylenol or ibuprofen.
Oral sprays and mouthwash can also be used for pain in the mouth.
Topical anesthesia can be used on the skin to help with pain in areas where blisters
Antibiotics are not needed.
Preventing the spread of hand, foot and mouth disease is most important and can
be simply done by adhering to these few steps:
1. Wash your hands often with soap and water
2. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects touched by an infected person
3. Avoid close contact with persons with the disease especially hugging and
Complications of the HFMD
Though cases of complications are very rare. It is important that we acquaint
ourselves of all the possible outcomes such as:-
Meningitis (infection of the brain)
Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
If you have a suspicion of hand, foot and mouth disease in your child, get
confirmation from a doctor as soon as possible and start on your strategies to prevent spread.