Hand-Foot-Mouth-Disease (HFMD) is a highly infectious disease common in young children attending childcare or preschool.
It is a viral infection that can cause painful ulcers and rashes over areas like the child’s mouth, hands, feet and buttocks. Herpangina is similar to HFMD, but is characterised mainly by blister-like ulcers on the roof of the mouth and at the back of the throat. These ulcers tend to be light grey with a red border.
Other symptoms of both HFMD and Herpangina may include tiredness, sore throat or mild fever before the appearance of sores or blisters. However, in some cases, there are very mild or no symptoms at all. This condition can last for up to 10 days if no treatment is taken.
Both HFMD and herpangina are caused by a similar virus called enterovirus. Enterovirus is highly contagious and is easily spread from person-to-person due to the following reasons:
There is an incubation period of 7 to 10 days before an exposed individual will start to present symptoms of HFMD or herpangina.
These diseases can affect individuals of all ages, both young and old. It can spread easily within a community setting and has been found to occur commonly in children below the age of 5 who attend school or childcare facilities.
When an individual is diagnosed with HFMD or herpangina, he or she will develop immunity towards the specific strain of virus that has caused the current infection. However, as there are several different strains of HFMD or herpangina viruses, it is possible to contract a different strain of the virus a subsequent time.
Practising good hygiene is the best way to prevent these illnesses:
You should keep in mind that young toddlers do not understand the concept of hygiene so parents, caregivers and even preschool teachers should take greater care to cultivate proper hygiene habits. If your children are older, they are more aware of their actions and are able to take more control of their own hygiene. It is important to make sure they keep practising these habits.
When you are caring for a child with HFMD, always remember to practice proper handwashing techniques after any direct contact with your child, especially before handling food. Disinfecting surfaces and toys can help reduce the spread of the disease to others. Lastly, if your child is contagious, avoid outdoor activities, going to school or play areas as the disease may spread and infect other healthy children.
There is no specific treatment or vaccination for HFMD or herpangina as this infection is caused by a virus known as enterovirus.
If your child has been diagnosed with HFMD or herpangina, your child’s doctor will be able to prescribe medications for relief of symptoms such as sore throat and fever, depending on his/her age. It is also important for your child to get enough hydration and rest during this period to aid recovery.
As HFMD and herpangina are highly contagious, keep your child isolated from family members and the public to avoid the spread of the infection. Once your paediatrician has certified that your child is cleared of HFMD then he or she is safe to return to school.
If you suspect your child may have HFMD or herpangina, make sure to give your paediatrician a visit.
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