Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, or HFMD, is a type of contagious viral illness that causes a rash in the mouth and on the hands and feet of infants and young children, and, while rare, adults. Characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet, hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most commonly caused by a coxsackievirus, a bacterium that lives in the human digestive tract. HFMD can spread from person to person, typically via unwashed hands.
What are the symptoms of HFMD?
Symptoms of HFMD usually begin with a fever, sore throat, poor appetite, or general malaise. A couple of days after the fever starts, kids may develop painful sores in the mouth. A skin rash characterized by red spots may also develop, usually on the palms of your child’s hands and soles of their feet. It’s important to note some children may only experience a rash while others may only have mouth sores.
Is HFMD serious? Should we be concerned?
Usually not. Nearly all children infected recover anywhere between seven to ten days without medical treatment. Rarely, however, a child can develop viral meningitis and may need to be hospitalized. Other rare complications of HFMD can include encephalitis (brain inflammation), which can be fatal.
How can my child prevent HFMD?
There is no known vaccine to defend your child against HFMD. However, the risk of your child contracting the disease can be reduced by:
- Making sure your child washes his or her hands often
- Thoroughly cleaning objects and surfaces (these include doorknobs and toys)
- Making sure your child avoids close contact with those who are infected
To learn more about hand-foot-and-mouth disease or to schedule an appointment for your child, please give us a call at our Dartmouth, MA office!