Hand-foot-mouth disease, the “star” disease of the warm season. How we recognize it after the first symptoms

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a contagious viral infection that is common in children under the age of 5, but can affect both adults and the elderly with weakened immune systems.

The symptoms of the disease can be confused with those of a cold. Photo source: archive

What is hand-foot-mouth disease?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this pathology is caused by non-polio enteroviruses, such as Coxsackie A16, A6 or Enterovirus 71, with preschool communities most affected. Although rare, this virus can lead to severe complications such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that protect the brain). The little ones are careless, they share the water bottle and the toys at the kindergarten, they touch the same objects, and the virus takes no account of anything when it makes victims. The disease spreads through the contact of the sick person with other people, through droplets containing virus particles, when the infected person coughs or sneezes, through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects, swallowing infected water (from swimming pools for example), etc.

Hand-foot-mouth disease, symptoms

We need to be aware of symptoms such as fever, mouth sores and skin rashes, but do not be alarmed, as most recover without treatment in 7-10 days.

According to WebMD, symptoms usually occur in two stages. When the illness first starts, children may experience flu-like symptoms, including a mild fever, sore throat, runny nose, stomach pain, or loss of appetite. In a few days, these symptoms may be replaced by an itchy rash on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, elbows, knees, or even on the genitals or buttocks. Painful sores may develop in and around the mouth and tongue, accompanied by swollen lymph nodes in the neck. The sores may appear as bright pink spots or tiny bumps, then turn into blisters

According to experts, the contagiousness of the disease is 7-10 days, which is why any infected child must be isolated at home. Signs of infection go away in about 10 days, less in children under 2 years old who need more time to eliminate the virus from the body.

Hand-foot-mouth disease, treatment

Pediatrician Mihai Craiu gave some advice to parents, on the Facebook page – “Virtual Children’s Hospital”.

Isolation of the sick child. For about a week the contagion is extremely high. We don’t take him to the pool, he doesn’t go to playgrounds in the presence of other children, we avoid direct family contact as much as possible. Because older brothers/sisters can also get the disease. Even adults who do not strictly follow hygiene rules (especially when bathing, eating or changing diapers) can get the disease. Even if they have in the past…

Fighting fever and intense pain with paracetamol or ibuprofen. It seems easier to use a suppository because the pain in the throat makes the child refuse to swallow. If we are not successful at all then we do wraps or hypothermic baths… with the mentioned precautions regarding infecting the adult caring for this child.

Hydrate generously with any fluid. Since oral lesions make chewing difficult and rough, sour or salty foods aggravate local pain, it is useful to focus only on liquids. The best being breast milk for infants. It doesn’t matter what he accepts to drink, as long as the child drinks something.

Reduction of local pain using oral sprays that “seal” canker sores, creating a local protective layer with an analgesic role.

Unfortunately, there are children who have a high fever and bad condition for a whole week. Don’t rush with the antibiotics after 3-4 days of fever!! Definitely not without a new consultation and analysis!” the doctor explained.