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Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a contagious viral disease that is most often seen in preschool-age children. Read more...



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What is hand, foot, and mouth disease?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a contagious viral disease that is most often seen in preschool-age children. It is caused most commonly by Coxsakievirus A16 and enterovirus, however other viruses have also been associated with outbreaks. There is usually about a 3-day period of time when kids will have a low-grade fever, be a little irritable, and have a sore throat. It can start off like any other virus. However, then a rash breaks out as small painful vesicles that break open quickly in the mouth and make it uncomfortable to eat, and often kids will start drooling. The hands and feet, especially on the sides of the fingers will break out in small vesicles with a pink halo around them. About half the cases will also have lesions on the buttocks. No treatment is necessarily required as it tends to last about a week before resolving.

How is hand, foot, and mouth disease spread?

This is a communicable disease which means it spreads in one of four ways:- skin to skin contact- saliva (sharing drinks for example)- airborne (through coughs or sneezes)- virus is shed in feces so washing hands after going to the restroom is also important to reduce spread.



Is there a particular time of year hand, foot, and mouth disease is more prevalent?

It is thought that there may be a relationship between hand, foot, and mouth and the weather. The summer seems to be associated with more outbreaks. Across the world, there has been a rising incidence of hand, foot, and mouth- especially in Asia. It is unclear why, however, some theories suggest climate change may be partially to blame.

Are there any treatments for hand, foot, and mouth disease?

There is no specific treatment for this viral illness. Because of the pain associated with it- especially with the mouth lesions, I recommend over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. It helps to have kids suck on cold treats like popsicles. Eating softer foods and less acidic foods will also be less likely to irritate the lesions while trying to eat!

How long is the contagious window with hand, foot, and mouth disease?

Although kids are most contagious for the first week, the virus can still be shed in their saliva and feces for weeks after. Proper hygiene with hand washing, covering the mouth with coughing, proper disposal of tissues after wiping a runny nose, and avoiding sharing drinks is important! Schools have policies on when kids can return. Usually, the kids need to be fever free and rash-free before returning.
Avoid sharing drinks, wash hands routinely, and wipe noses on tissues and not sleeves!!!


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