Often confused with hoof and mouth disease (or foot and mouth disease), hand, foot, and mouth disease is entirely different. Hoof and mouth disease affects cows, sheep, and pigs. Hand, foot, and mouth disease affects humans. With that distinction made, you might be asking, “What is hand foot and mouth disease?”
The Spread of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a highly contagious, viral infection. Though frequently afflicting young children, people of any age can contract it. The virus spreads through saliva, mucus, and other bodily fluids. It is found in minuscule respiratory droplets that escape your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze.
Preschool age children are especially susceptible to hand, foot, and mouth disease. This is due to young children often wiping their nose on their hands or sleeves and not engaging in proper hand-washing techniques. Hand, foot, and mouth disease spreads among children and caregivers rapidly. It is often a common affliction among camps, childcare facilities, schools, and other group settings with communal areas.
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Symptoms
Though hand, foot, and mouth disease can linger for weeks. It is commonly caused by an infection called coxsackievirus. When coxsackievirus infections develop, a person will experience flu-like symptoms. Since it is a virus it will usually run its course without treatment.
Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease are often confined to mouth sores and rashes on the hands and feet. In some cases, the disease can bring red blisters inside the mouth. The blisters can appear in the throat and on the tongue. The gums, hard palate, and inside of the cheeks can also become sore and red. Along with a fever that may last several days, these painful sores and blisters can remain for up to 10 days.
Other symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include (but are not limited to):
- muscle aches and pains
- irritability and fussiness
- prolonged sleeping
- persistent sore throat
- stomach pain
- painful swallowing
Caring for Hand Foot and Mouth Disease
There is no medical treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease. You can monitor it to ensure it doesn’t worsen. Additionally, you can alleviate aches and treat fevers with acetaminophen (Tylenol), or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil). Anyone suffering from hand, foot, and mouth disease should stay home until their symptoms have cleared. This helps to prevent the spread of the virus to others.
For children (or adults) having difficulty swallowing popsicles, ice cream, smoothies and liquids are recommended. It is important to stay hydrated whenever you are feverish. Avoid hot foods and liquids if sores are present in the mouth. Also, acidic drinks such as orange juice and carbonated sodas can increase throat pain.
In some cases, hand, foot, and mouth disease can cause more serious infections. To help prevent further illnesses, wash the infected skin on the hands and feet with soap and water. Clean all areas of the body where rashes are present. This will also help to prevent the spread of the disease.Ointment can be used to help ease blister irritation.
If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease BASS Medical can help diagnosis the condition. Make an appointment today for an exam and treatment plan.
How Long is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Contagious?
The disease is most contagious during the first week of infection. However, it can also spread from person-to-person contact days or even weeks after symptoms go away.
Though hand, foot, and mouth disease is often an ailment that resolves itself, it can sometimes lead to other health conditions. If you suspect you or your child has hand, foot, and mouth disease, contact your family physician. They may recommend you remain home and wait it out.
For more information on hand, foot, and mouth disease, contact BASS Medical today. The staff at Bass Medical are well-educated in all skin related infections and illnesses. They can offer a professional diagnosis for all ailments and the best treatment plans.