Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFM) is a common illness caused by the enterovirus family, and can affect both adults and children alike, but young children are especially prone to the illness, based on their everyday habits, surroundings, etc.
So, just what is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease? The virus itself can cause sores on a child’s body, typically, as you may have guessed, on the namesakes of the disease. However, the sores can appear elsewhere, and can be painful for the child.
The virus starts off in the digestive tract, but is easily contagious from person to person, so children in close quarters (daycares, etc.) are extremely susceptible.
Let’s take a closer look at the common symptoms of Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease when it comes to children, and how you can fight back against it.
The sores that are commonly found with HFM are called ‘blisters,’ and can appear slightly different depending on where they are in the body.
In the mouth itself, these blisters will appear on the tongue, and the back of the throat. The pain can be caused as the blisters begin to ‘peel,’ causing a raw sort of ulcer in the mouth.
On a child’s feet and hands, these sores can appear as small, flat blisters. These, too, can be painful, but typically only when they ‘burst’ open, causing the same raw feeling of the skin that can cause extra discomfort when your child walks, rubs their hands on something, etc.
Other common symptoms associated with HFM include:
More than likely, however, you’ll be the one to notice the sores and blisters on your children’s hand and feet, first.
There are essentially two ways to fight back against HFM: Treatment for the disease itself, and prevention for the future.
Unfortunately, that’s also where a bit of disheartening news can come into play. There is actually no set cure for HFM. It simply needs to run its course before fading away, which can typically take up to a week.
And while it’s never easy to watch your child experience any kind of pain, there is no real harm in the sores themselves, other than discomfort.
If your child is in pain, you can certainly offer them ibuprofen or an equivalent form of relief to ease their discomfort, or even rub an antibiotic cream on blisters that have opened up. This can help soothe the pain, and prevent infection from happening, creating more issues.
The main ‘worry’ that can occur when it comes to HFM is if your child has difficulty eating or drinking to the point where they simply refuse.
Many kids will not want to experience the pain that can come from swallowing, chewing, etc. when they have blisters on their tongue, cheeks, and throat, so they will simply refuse to eat.
In these instances, it’s important to talk to a doctor about possible solutions. The most important thing you can do is keep your child from becoming dehydrated.
Most children will respond better to cold items, like popsicles, ice cream, etc. It will offer a welcomed relief to the sores in their mouth, and they may be more likely to eat something they consider a ‘treat,’ but the best thing you can do is make sure they’re receiving enough liquids.
While prevention of HFM is also not a guarantee, there are a few steps you and your child can take. Because it mostly affects younger children, the precautions are usually something you’ll have to take charge of for your child.
And the best thing you can do is very simple: Make sure your child washes their hands often.
HFM is spread through contact, whether it’s contact with the actual blisters, saliva, mucus, or even feces, any sort of touch that occurs with the disease present can make your child a prime target.
Unfortunately, many places where kids spend a lot of their time can be perfect breeding grounds for such things. Make sure your child knows the importance of handwashing after everything they do.
And don’t be afraid to request their daycare worker, etc., to make it a regular part of your child’s day, too, if they have to be away from home and around other children each day.