Hand, foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious virus common in children under 5 years old, though cases have been reported in adults who come into contact. The disease typically lasts 7-10 days and may resolve itself without medical intervention, but complications can lead to a longer case and multiple viruses present similar symptoms.
Symptoms of Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease
The most physical symptom of the disease is a rash, which appears on the patient’s hands, feet and in their mouth as sores and blisters. The rash may spread along the arms and across the torso. Additional symptoms include reduced appetite, sore throat, fever, and dehydration. Due to the sores in the mouth, swallowing liquids may be difficult due to increased pain levels. Hand, foot and mouth disease is highly contagious and is spread through physical contact with affected people and contaminated objects, especially touchpoint areas frequently touched throughout the day like faucets, door handles, and railings. The disease can also be spread if you are changing the diaper of a child who has contracted it or if someone who has it sneezes or coughs. It is at its height of contagion during the first week, although you can still be contagious for several days or weeks after symptoms dissipate.
Preventing Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease
Hand, foot and mouth disease can be prevented by following proper hygiene habits in home and in public. Teach your child how to thoroughly wash their hands using soap and hot water for at least thirty seconds. In order to make it easier for them to understand, have them sing the ABC song while they wash their hands. Your hands should be washed several times throughout the day, especially after handling raw food, changing diapers and using the bathroom. Wipe down frequently touched surfaces with hot water and disinfectant often to prevent germs from being spread. If disinfecting agents are not available, adding a small of bleach to four cups of water will be able to remove germs before you rinse and dry the surface. If someone is affected with hand, foot and mouth disease, avoid physical contact or sharing utensils until visiting a doctor.
If you or a member of your family has begun to show symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease, visit your local AFC Urgent Care center for diagnosis and treatment.