Hand-foot-and-mouth (HFMD) disease is a contagious viral infection that is commonly transmitted among daycare and
school age children. Caused by the coxsackievirus, it is spread person-to-person by contact with infected nasal secretions, saliva, blister fluid, stool or respiratory droplets. Most commonly, coxsackievirus is spread through sneezing or coughing.
At first, hand-foot-and-mouth may be mistaken for a cold, the flu or other similar virus. Initial symptoms may include a fever, sore throat, irritability and generally feeling run down. Children who have hand-foot-and-mouth disease will develop sores in the mouth as well as blisters or a skin rash that show up on the hands and soles of the feet. Sores or white patches in the mouth or throat can oftentimes be mistaken for a throat infection, like strep throat.
Sores and blisters associated with hand-foot-and-mouth disease can develop one to two days after the fever begins, however, your child may be carrying the virus for up to six days before showing any symptoms. This fact adds to how quickly and easily it can spread.
Because it’s a virus, there is no specific treatment to cure hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Over-the-counter pain medications can relieve general discomfort and a topical oral anesthetic can minimize mouth pain. Children who have mouth sores may be reluctant to drink, so it’s important to keep them hydrated. While hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most common in younger kids, older children, teenagers and adults can develop it, too.
Teach kids to wash their hands properly and cough or sneeze into their arm sleeve. Both habits can help stop the spread of germs.
Don’t hesitate to contact Mooresville Pediatrics and Adolescent Care with any questions about your child’s symptoms.