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Symptoms and Prevention of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Aug 10, 2023

Pediatric Care

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a viral illness that usually affects kids under five but can also impact older children and adults. It's caused by various viruses, mainly Coxsackievirus, and shows up as a rash and sores on hands, feet, and inside the mouth.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HFMD is widespread, with thousands of cases yearly in the United States. In children, especially those attending daycare centers or preschools, HFMD spreads rapidly due to close contact and shared spaces. Their developing immune systems make them more vulnerable, and their habit of touching contaminated surfaces worsens the spread.

In this blog, we will learn about this viral infection, its symptoms, causes, treatment options, and proactive prevention steps to lessen its impact.

Understanding How HFMD Spreads in Children

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a highly contagious viral infection that is especially common in daycare centers and schools due to the close contact among children. This infectious illness, primarily caused by various enteroviruses, spreads rapidly through several means:

  • Close Contact: HFMD spreads through close interaction, such as hugging or playing closely.
  • Respiratory Secretions: Coughing or sneezing expels droplets containing the virus.
  • Saliva Exchange: Sharing drinks, utensils, or touching saliva-covered surfaces.
  • Blister Fluid: Contact with the fluid from HFMD blisters can spread the virus.
  • Contaminated Surfaces: Touching toys, doorknobs, or surfaces where the virus lingers. 

Understanding these transmission pathways helps implement effective preventive measures and minimize HFMD outbreaks among children. 

Why Do Adults Experience Severe HFMD Symptoms? 

HFMD, usually seen in kids, can also affect adults, sometimes causing worse symptoms. Adults might have more intense reactions due to a few reasons:

  • Stronger Immune Response: Adult bodies react strongly to the virus, causing more severe symptoms than kids.
  • First-Time Encounter: If it's the first time an adult catches HFMD, their body isn't ready to fight it off, making the symptoms harsher.
  • Health Conditions: Adults with health issues or weaker immune systems might face tougher HFMD symptoms.
  • Virus Exposure: Getting exposed to the virus from infected kids can lead to more severe effects in adults.

Though it's rare for adults to get HFMD, practicing good hygiene, avoiding contact with infected individuals, and seeking medical help can help manage symptoms and reduce the chances of severe effects.

What Puts You at Risk for HFMD?

HFMD is mainly caused by various enteroviruses, among which Coxsackievirus is the most common. Several risk factors contribute to the transmission and likelihood of catching HFMD:

  • Age: Children aged five or below are at higher risk of severe symptoms from HFMD due to their developing immune systems, while older individuals are less likely to experience severe effects. 
  • Crowded Places: Settings like daycares, schools, and playgrounds where children come into close contact facilitate the transmission of the virus.
  • Poor Hygiene: Lack of proper hygiene, such as not washing hands after using the toilet or changing diapers, can increase the risk of contracting HFMD. 
  • Seasonal Variation: HFMD often peaks in warmer months but can occur throughout the year, contributing to increased transmission during these periods.

Recognizing HFMD Symptoms in Easy Steps 

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) shows specific symptoms that are easy to spot with these simple steps:

  • Fever
  • Sore Throat
  • Mouth Sores
  • Skin Rash
  • Malaise and Irritability
  • Loss of Appetite

What Causes HFMD?  

HFMD is commonly caused by viruses from the Enterovirus genus, especially Coxsackievirus A16 and Enterovirus 71. Here are some key causes:

  • Viral Transmission
  • Poor Hygiene
  • Weakened Immune System
  • Lack of Immunity

How Can HFMD Be Treated?  

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) treatment primarily focuses on managing symptoms, as the illness is typically self-limiting and resolves on its own within a week to ten days. Here are some key aspects to effectively treat HFMD:

  • Symptomatic Relief
  • Encourage Fluid Intake
  • Adequate Rest
  • Good Hygiene Practices

Can HFMD Be Prevented? 

Preventative measures, such as regular handwashing, avoiding close contact with infected individuals, disinfecting surfaces, and promoting good hygiene practices, play a crucial role in reducing the spread of HFMD. While the disease is generally mild and self-limiting, complications can arise, especially in cases involving Enterovirus 71, highlighting the importance of promptly monitoring and managing severe symptoms.

Final Thoughts 

HFMD is a common viral illness among young children, causing fever, sore throat, and distinctive rashes or blisters on the hands, feet, and inside the mouth. Though not usually life-threatening, its symptoms are distressing and last about 1-2 weeks with care.

Early recognition and prevention are crucial. Practicing good hygiene, especially handwashing, reduces its spread. Avoiding contact with infected individuals, especially in crowded places, can help prevent transmission. Additionally, promoting these practices in schools, daycares, and communities can significantly reduce the spread of the disease.

Seeking medical attention when necessary is vital, especially if the symptoms worsen or complications arise. While HFMD typically runs its course without specific treatment, certain cases may require medical intervention, especially if there are signs of dehydration due to difficulty swallowing or refusal to eat or drink. 

Find Comfort and Relief From HFMD at Metro Urgent Care

Struggling with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)? Seek relief at Metro Urgent Care. Our experienced team specializes in managing HFMD symptoms. The walk-in urgent care clinic now has two locations in Chicago: 5406 W. Fullerton Ave. (773) 341-2897 and 3235 W. Montrose Ave. (773) 669-0005. Don't endure discomfort alone – get the care you need for a speedy recovery.

Contact us today, and let us help you feel better!

Source: CDC

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