Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease: What Is It?

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

You’re picking up your child from their daycare classroom, and boom, you’re greeted with a warning sign that says, “There have been three cases of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease reported in this classroom…” followed by a list of preventative measures. Hand, Foot, and Mouth? Just the name of the disease alone makes you cringe, but what actually is it? Is it serious? Should you be worried?

What You Need to Know About Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is an illness caused by a virus called enterovirus, which can be spread through contact with saliva, spit, nasal mucus, blister fluid, and feces. It’s most common in children but can also occur in adults. Because little children aren’t yet capable of maintaining their hygiene sufficiently, like wiping their nose or washing their hands consistently and thoroughly, the disease is commonly found in childcare centers.

What are the Symptoms?

The symptoms can be mild and your child may not complain at all of feeling ill. In more severe cases, your child may appear tired or complain of a sore throat. Fevers between 101-103°F sometimes accompany the illness. Sores or blisters on the hands, feet, inside or on the mouth, or on the buttocks and legs may appear a day or two later. They may or may not be painful, and they may break open and crust over.

How Long Does the Condition Last?

The sores and blisters usually go away in a week or so. Overall, the illness typically lasts for just a week.

How to Keep Your Child from Getting Infected:

Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease is highly contagious, so your child’s school should require that infected children stay home until they’re cleared by a doctor. If your child is the one infected, you should limit their exposure to others while they’re still showing symptoms. Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after using the toilet. Use hand sanitizer frequently. Clean surfaces and toys. Avoid sharing utensils and dishes.

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