School is back in and it’s time for us parents to be a bit cautious on common epidemics that occur in schools mainly for the younger children.
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) a common, highly contagious viral illness. This disease is typically named after the breakout of sores and rashes which occur on the hands, feet and in the mouth. HFMD often occurs in children under 10 yeaThe virus can be transmitted from person to person via direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the stool of infected persons. The virus may continue to be excreted in the stools of infected persons up till 1 month.
Signs and symptoms of HFMD normally appear 3-6 days after exposure to the virus. A person is most contagious during the first week of the illness. Common symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, sores/ulcers in the mouth, rashes with blisters and general discomfort and irritability. The rashes caused by HFMD are rarely itchy for children however, if adults are infected, it can cause serious itchiness. Blisters on the other hand can be extremely painful. A baby with HFMD may not want to breastfeed or eat because of the sores in her mouth.
rashes on palms of the hands
Rashes on the soles of feet
Although you may just have to wait out the seven to 14 days it typically takes for the HFMD to subside as no antiviral treatment or vaccine is currently available for HFMD, you can make your baby more comfortable. Dehydration very important apart from body temperature monitoring because the mouth sores may make it difficult and painful for children to eat and drink.
- Give your child paracetamol suspension, under your doctor’s recommendation.
- Dress your child in light, thin clothing
- Do tepid sponging with water (room temperature) as often as necessary
- Expose your child under the fan.
- Teething gel may relieve your baby’s pain.
- Keep offering breastmilk or formula, or water and diluted juice for an older baby. A toddler may enjoy an ice-lolly, which will provide fluids and soothe the sores.
Specific prevention for HFMD or other non-polio enterovirus infections is not available, but the risk of infection can be lowered by good hygienic practices. Preventive measures include:
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after diaper changes, after using toilet and before preparing food
- Maintain cleanliness of house, child care center, kindergartens or schools and its surrounding
- Proper cleaning of shared utensils
- Clean contaminated surfaces and soiled items with soap and water, and then disinfecting them with diluted solution of chlorine-containing bleach (10% concentration)
- Avoid direct contact with infected individuals (including keeping infected children home from school)
- Parents are advised not to bring young children to crowded public places such as shopping centers, cinemas, swimming pools, markets or bus stations
- Bring your child to the nearest clinic if they show signs and symptoms. Refrain from sending them to child care centers, kindergartens or schools.
- Avoid close contact (kissing, hugging, sharing utensils, etc.) with children who are infected with HFMD to reduce of the risk of infection.