Hand, foot, mouth disease

What is hand, foot, and mouth disease?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common childhood illness caused by a virus. The disease occurs most often in spring and autumn and is seen in babies and young children.

It is characterized by fever and the appearance of a blistering rash that affects the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and a blistering rash also appears in the mouth.

Hand, foot, mouth disease – what are the symptoms

Usually, the disease appears in the spring and autumn, but it is possible to appear at any time of the year. The most common initial symptoms are high fever and general malaise – lack of appetite, joint pain, etc.

These symptoms usually last 1-2 days before a blistering rash appears on the hands, feet and mouth.

The rash initially appears as small red dots, but then develops into vesicles. The gums, the inside of the cheeks and the tongue can form. Affected children may complain of pain in the mouth and throat.

To avoid being swallowed, children begin to drool – saliva flows from their mouths. They may refuse to eat and drink water because of the discomfort caused by the rash.

Babies can even become dehydrated because they refuse to drink water. Rarely, other more serious complications such as viral meningitis and encephalitis develop. Symptoms associated with these complications are high fever, headache, neck stiffness and back pain. If your child develops any of these additional symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.

What causes it

The disease is caused by coxsackie virus A-16, which belongs to the enterovirus family. There are other strains of enteroviruses that can cause infection, but only in rarer cases.

Children are most often infected with the virus through the fecal-oral route, i.e. infection occurs through exposure to oral secretions – nasal secretions, saliva, etc. or from feces. The incubation period is usually 5 days.

Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease Treatment

There is no specific treatment for the disease. Supportive therapy is administered, the main goals of which are to control fever and prevent dehydration.

In some cases, the child may be given a medicated mouthwash prescribed by the doctor.

It is a combination of several liquid oral medications, usually a local anesthetic and diphenhydramine. They are applied to reduce pain and inflammation in the mouth and thus encourage the child to take food and water orally.

If your child’s temperature remains high despite having been given all the medicines to lower the temperature regularly, or if he develops any symptoms of dehydration such as dry skin and mucous membranes, weight loss, persistent irritability or decreased frequency of urination, you should immediately to seek medical help.

Hand, foot, mouth disease – how to protect yourself

To protect against any infection, it is always important to maintain personal hygiene, which mainly consists of washing the child’s hands regularly.

For already infected children, the viral infection proceeds mildly and they recover within about a week after the onset of symptoms.

There is no vaccine for the disease, however it is usually self-limiting and children generally cannot become infected again. And elderly people with stable immunity, even if they are exposed to the causative viruses, do not develop symptoms.

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