Seeing your child feeling sick is never a good experience, and seeing them with sores all over their mouth and body can be downright terrifying. But if your little one comes home with hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFM), there’s no reason to panic.
What is hand-foot-and-mouth disease?
HFM disease is a viral infection commonly seen in children under 6, and it looks much more serious than it is. The telltale signs, according to Mayo Clinic include:
- Sore throat
- Feeling of being unwell (malaise)
- Painful, red, blister-like lesions on the tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks
- A red rash, without itching but sometimes with blistering, on the palms, soles and sometimes the buttocks
- Irritability in infants and toddlers
- Loss of appetite
The illness usually begins with a fever and then a sore throat. The blisters may show up after a couple of days. Overall, the illness only lasts about a week or less.
What causes hand-foot-and-mouth disease?
The virus responsible for the condition is called Coxsackie, specifically Coxsackievirus A16. It is contagious, passed on orally. Mayo Clinic explains that it is commonly passed through:
- Nasal secretions or throat discharge
- Fluid from blisters
- Respiratory droplets sprayed into the air after a cough or sneeze
If you’ve ever spent time with a bunch of little kids, you can see why with these manners of transmission, the younger ones are more likely to be affected. The illness also has a short incubation period so may not show up right after your child comes in contact with an infected one.
How do I treat hand-foot-and-mouth disease?
In most minor cases, the child will start feeling better after a few days of rest, fluids and keeping the blister-area clean. However, if the child becomes dehydrated or the symptoms get worse, it’s important to see a doctor. Also, KidsHealth suggests calling a doctor immediately if you notice the following:
- Fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C) for infants younger than 6 months and higher than 102°F (38.8°C) for older kids
- Poor appetite
- Trouble feeding
- Difficulty breathing
- Unusual sleepiness
- Pain in the chest or abdomen
- Sores on the skin or inside the mouth
- Severe sore throat
- Severe headache, especially with vomiting, confusion, or unusual sleepiness
- Neck stiffness
- Red, swollen, and watery eyes
- Pain in one or both testicles
Can hand-foot-and-mouth disease be prevented?
Unfortunately, viruses happen, but there are some ways you can lessen the chance of your child getting the illness. These include:
- Thorough hand washing
- Practicing good hygiene
- Disinfecting shared areas
- Staying away from other kids who are sick
If you suspect your child is suffering from a sore throat or any of the symptoms associated with HFM, make an appointment at one of our four conveniently-located offices — Kent, Litchfield, Shelton or Waterbury. Call (203) 574-5997 or schedule online. When you come in, our expert doctors at Westwood Ear, Nose and Throat will use their gentle bedside manner to find the right treatment for your baby’s needs.