Hand foot and mouth disease
HFMD is a common communicable disease that afflicts children under the age of five and is caused by intestinal viruses.
The classic symptom of hand, foot and mouth disease is painful red lesions on the tongue, gums, inside the cheeks and red rashes on the palms, soles, buttock and elbows.
Other common symptoms include fever, sore throat and a general feeling of uneasiness (malaise). Toddlers afflicted by the disease are likely to be more irritable than normal, lose their appetite and have the aforementioned red lesions. HFMD often gets confused with chicken pox or skin allergies.
What you need to remember is unlike chicken pox, HFMD lesions don’t grow all over the body and are smaller and less painful. Also unlike skin allergies, it only occurs in the hand, feet and mouth.
HFMD can be diagnosed by a general physician or paediatrician by observation. The virus spreads very easily through coughing and sneezing and also through infected stool. This is why schools or playgrounds are places where an individual is most likely to pick up the virus.
There is no treatment for the disease per se and is a self-limiting disease i.e. it usually heals in seven days. There are various methods to alleviate the symptoms of the disease including painkillers and medicines for fever. You can give your child paracetamol but we recommend consulting a doctor.
However, WebMD recommends you don’t give your child aspirin since it’s been linked to Reye ’s syndrome, a fatal disease that affects many organs, especially the liver and brain and leads low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia).
Prevention is hard considering it’s a community disease which will spread to other children in any enclosed spread when a single child has the ailment. It’s important not to send your children to school during outbreaks and maintain proper hygiene i.e. making sure no other child handles soiled diapers, etc. They should also always wash their hands properly before eating, after coming home and other basic hygiene measures.
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