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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease: What Parents Need to Know

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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)—which usually affects children is actually fairly common, and it can be pretty miserable for your kids. Once exposed, initial symptoms can include sore throat, fever, and a lack of energy and appetite. Eventually, the virus does live up to its name.

A few days after symptom onset, painful mouth sores and a rash on the hands and soles of the feet ultimately make an appearance and take about two weeks to clear up. Until they do, be sure to keep your child away from others, because this virus is very contagious.

How It Spreads
The disease is spread through contact with the nasal discharge, saliva, feces, or fluids from an infected person. Therefore, daycare centers, classrooms or other social settings can become a HFMD hotbed because little ones don’t typically practice good hygiene.

Prevention Tips
Similar to preventing other viral conditions, HFMD can be avoided by:
Proper (thorough) hand-washing
Reminding children to avoid touching their nose, mouth, or eyes
Cover coughs and sneezes
Avoid kissing, hugging, or sharing utensils and cups with someone who has the condition
And at home and school, frequently disinfecting surfaces like countertops, toys, doorknobs and light switches

Need-to-Know Facts
HFMD mostly impacts infants and children younger than 5 because their bodies have not yet developed immunity to combat the condition. However, adults can still get the virus.
Because there are several different strains of HFMD, you can contract the virus more than once.
Symptoms of HFMD come in stages and don’t always appear all at once.
Those with the condition are most contagious during the first week of infection but can still spread the virus to others even if symptoms are no longer present.
Avoid citrus, salty and spicy food which can irritate the mouth sores.

Because it’s viral, there is no medicine to treat HFMD but fever and pain can be managed with over-the-counter fever reducers and pain relievers. And be sure to offer plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration. However, if your little one experiences extreme discomfort, shows signs of dehydration, or has a fever that lasts more than 3 days – consult a physician.