Yesterday, Chloe was trying to wake me up. She noticed blisters on her fingers. I really didn't worry too much about it at first, thinking it may have been some sort of mild allergic reaction or bug bites from playing outside all day. This afternoon, I was feeding her and she began to cry as she shoved her hands into her mouth, desperately trying to figure out what was causing the pain. Thinking it was just an ordinary blister, I said I'll buy her vitamin C. When I asked her to open her mouth, I noticed the pain wasn’t caused by just one blister but several ones that had formed on the back of her throat, lower lip and tongue. At this moment I knew it's HFMD.
I saw the number of blisters on her tiny hands multiply as the rash spread to the area around her mouth and legs, and at this point she was refusing to eat or drink anything – making it even more difficult for her to sleep.
I decided to bring her to the doctor. I told the attending physician Chloe’s symptoms and he confirmed that she in fact has HFMD and provided us with a few suggestions. We also learned a few tips along the way. Since we are currently in HFMD season again, I would like to share these tips and facts with anyone who may find themselves caring for a child with HFMD.
So what is HFMD?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in adults. Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever, mouth sores, and a skin rash.
Some people, especially young children, may get dehydrated if they are not able to swallow enough liquids because of painful mouth sores.
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is caused by a virus called an enterovirus.
The virus spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. It can also spread through infected stool, such as when you change a diaper or when a young child gets stool on his or her hands and then touches objects that other children put in their mouths. Often the disease breaks out within a community.
It usually takes 3 to 6 days for a person to get symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease after being exposed to the virus. This is called the incubation period.
There is no vaccine to protect against the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease.
A person can lower their risk of being infected by
•Washing hands often with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet. Visit CDC’s Clean Hands Save Lives! for more information.
•Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and soiled items, including toys.
•Avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people with hand, foot, and mouth disease.
If a person has mouth sores, it might be painful to swallow. However, it is important for people with hand, foot, and mouth disease to drink enough liquids to prevent dehydration (loss of body fluids). If a person cannot swallow enough liquids, they may need to receive them through an IV in their vein.
There is no specific treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease. However, some things can be done to relieve symptoms, such as
•Offer your child plenty of cool fluids to help with sore throat. Cold foods such as flavored ice pops and ice cream also may help.
•Don't give your child acidic or spicy foods and drinks, such as salsa or orange juice. These foods can make mouth sores more painful.
•Taking over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever (Caution: Aspirin should not be given to children.)
•Using mouthwashes or sprays that numb mouth pain
To help prevent the disease from spreading:
•If your child goes to day care or school, talk to the staff about when your child can return.
•Wash your hands frequently. It is especially important to wash your hands after you touch a blister or change the diaper of an infected child.
•Teach all family members to wash their hands often. It is especially important to wash your hands after you change the diaper of an infected child.
•Don't let your child share toys or give kisses while he or she is infected.
People who are concerned about their symptoms should contact their health care provider.
Things I wish I knew about HFMD before Chloe had it.
- There isn’t really a treatment
- Hand washing will become your new hobby
- Keep an eye out for dehydration
One of the more important things to watch for when your child has Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease is for signs of dehydration. Because of the sore throat, many children do not take in enough fluids. We were lucky that after Monday, our son has been eating and drinking normally.
- Adults CAN catch it
It has been a stressful, yet educational day in our household. I hope you don’t have to battle this virus, but in case you do, here are some additional resources with helpful information: