If you have a preschooler or young child who is in school who is younger than five years old, then your child may be at risk for hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD) – a common virus that affects about 200,000 people in the United States every year with no available vaccine.
Now, the HFMD virus doesn’t always affect young children, as if sometimes affects elderly people as well. But often its victims are young children because the disease is so easy to spread among them.
Is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Contagious?
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious, and it can be spread easily by saliva and mucous. If you’ve ever been in a child’s classroom, you know how easy it is for children to be in contact with each other because they are exploring how to communicate, hug, play and form new friendships.
If you’re worried about HFMD – and you want to be able to recognize the signs quickly – then read on to get our top tips for recognizing the signs and combatting it as soon as you see it.
This disease can be painful and unsightly – and if left untreated, it can be dangerous for your child. This year, make sure you read on to get our top tips to keep your family free from hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
How Do You Get Hand Foot and Mouth?
Did you know your child can get this disease from something as simple as a sneeze or a kiss?
And because preschoolers and young-aged children seem to always be reaching for one another, it’s very possible that this disease spreads around the classroom very quickly.
In fact, the West Central Health District in Georgia reports that this year could be an all-time record-breaking year for the condition.
Hand Foot and Mouth Symptoms
Symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease include the common ones associated with the flu – such as:
- Sore throat
- Not wanting to eat much
- Painful sores in their mouth
- A rash of tiny defining marks of hand-foot-and-mouth disease are itchy, red spots and sores that begin appearing on your body, most notably on your hands, your feet and your mouth, although they also can pop up on your genitals and legs.
When Should I See a Doctor?
You should see a doctor as soon as possible. If left untreated, hand-foot-and-mouth disease can cause a great deal of damage to your child’s body.
This includes weakening the immune system further and leading to the loss of fingernails and toenails, and even more dangerously, meningitis and encephalitis.
Your doctor will advise you to keep your child at home until the disease has gone through its full cycle because your child will continue to be contagious until the cycle has completed.
How Can I Prevent My Family From Getting HFMD?
This will take some concentrated effort, but you’ll need to try to get all family members on the same page and follow these simple steps:
- Be sure to disinfect the areas they have come in contact with frequently.
- Avoid any possible interaction with saliva and mucous substances while your child recovers from hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
- You’ll want to avoid any close contact with the infected person, like sharing cups, hugging each other, touching and part of their face.
- There is never such a thing as too much washing of hands when someone in your family has this contagious disease – but at the very least make sure everyone washes hands thoroughly (about 20 seconds) before eating or touching food and after every trip to the bathroom.
What If My Child Has Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease?
Because hand-foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious, you’ll have to be extremely vigilant in knowing the signs listed in this guide and getting treatment quickly. Keep this guide handy and refer to it frequently as a reminder of what you’ll need to do.
Remember, your child could be a risk for more serious conditions if you don’t act quickly. Make sure you’ve waited until your child has fully recovered (usually lasts 7 -10 days without medical treatment) before sending him or her back to school to completely avoid the possibility of passing the disease along to other children.
While your child recovers remember to encourage him or her to rest and to drink plenty of fluids. It’s not going to be a pleasant time for your child as he or she recovers, but the most important thing to help heal the body is to rest, hydrate and stay away from others.