Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease and What You Need to Know

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease and What You Need to Know

pc: @kristinwilkersonphoto & @jessicajanaephotography

As we head into the cooler months, parents are gearing up for being indoors more. While that can mean cozy nights by the fire, getting all snuggled up with blankets, and enjoying hot chocolate, it can also mean that young kids are more susceptible to catching illnesses while we remain in close quarters. One illness to be on the lookout for is called Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease or HFMD. This is a long name for a virus-caused disease that most commonly affects children younger than 5, although it can affect any age group.

A couple years ago, both of my boys had it during Christmas. It made for a very interesting Christmas morning where they just felt horrible but were excited about presents. There are mild forms of the disease that will hardly seem worse than a common cold, and then there are worse strains that can leave your finger and toe nails falling off. My kids had the hard-hitting strain and were as miserable as they've ever been with a sickness. However, besides the miserable symptoms, it doesn't usually cause any other health concerns after it's run it's course. But we want you all to be prepared in case it rears it's ugly head around your people this year. Here are some things that might be helpful to know about this condition:

How is it spread?

It is spread when someone comes into contact with the virus via another person's hands, objects that have been used by an infected person, and also breathing it in when in close proximity to an infected person. It is highly contagious and is spread like wild fire. Be especially careful in places that have a lot of children in close quarters using the same objects such as toys, electronics, etc. Some areas to be cautious of are daycare centers, church groups, school, and common play areas such as those at a mall or other public places. Good hand-washing is key in keeping this illness away from your household, but like I said before, it is highly contagious and is spread very easily.

What are the symptoms?

High Fever (usually over 102 degrees F) - Use the Fridababy Fever Monitor to keep tabs on your child's temperature while they sleep via a patch that transmits the information to your smart phone, so you can see how they are doing without waking them. Body aches Sore throat Chills Red sores inside and around mouth, hands and feet, and sometimes genital area (these generally occur a couple days after initial symptoms begin)

What is the treatment?

Very similar to the common cold, this is a viral illness and antibiotics will not help the symptoms. In cases of viral illnesses, symptoms are usually managed until the body can fight it off, which usually takes about 7-10 days. You will want to make sure your child gets plenty of fluids. This is one of the biggest concerns with viruses because they cause high fevers and body aches which can dehydrate the body rather quickly. There is also the added struggle of getting your child to want to eat or drink while they have painful sores in their mouth and throat. Some ideas here are to have your child suck on a popsicle, eat ice cream, or drink a smoothie. They are cold and numbing and provide fluids to your child. Use pain relievers such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen to help with pain relief and reducing fevers. Make sure your children get plenty of rest. This usually goes without saying, but it is an important part of the healing process.

As we approach this time of year, keep in mind that if your child has a fever, they should stay away from school and friends until they have been without a fever for 24 hours. This helps reduce the spread of viruses.

Have you had to deal with HFMD?  What are some things that you noticed or did to help relieve the symptoms?

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