It is Summer…and the season for Hand Foot and Mouth Disease
Hand foot and mouth disease is very contagious and often presents with fever, sore throat, mouth sores, and a flat red rash on hands and feet…
It is summer! Summer brings wonderful weather, outdoor play, fewer colds and flu; but more cases of hand , foot and mouth disease. Every summer I see cases of this common viral illness that usually affects infants and young children. This summer is no exception…it seems that it is spreading quickly in our area.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a contagious viral illness most commonly seen from spring to early fall. Most of the time a child will run a fever, not eat well, have a sore throat and just not feel well. A day or so after the fever begins; sores can develop in the mouth. Sometimes we see a flat red rash on the palms of hands and the soles of feet too. A rash can also pop up on a child’s knees, elbows, and bottom. The rash may blister but it won’t itch. After the rash disappears, there is often a peeling of the hands and feet. Not everyone will develop all of these symptoms, sometimes there may be little or no symptoms but the child can still pass the virus on to others.
There is no medicine to “cure” the virus….just time, fever reducing over the counter medicine, lots of fluids, cold foods to soothe the mouth sores, and lots of TLC. The illness is usually not serious and most children are feeling better in 7 to 10 days.
The reason this virus is sooo contagious is that it is passed child to child from nose and throat secretions (think runny noses and drooling kids!), in stool (dirty diapers!), and from any fluid from the blisters or rash. People are most contagious during the first few days of their illness, but may also still remain contagious for several weeks after the symptoms go away. Some people (especially adults) may never have any symptoms but can still spread the virus to others.
Call your child’s pediatrician if he is not drinking well because of mouth sores or a very sore throat, if your child complains of neck pain, chest pain, has difficulty breathing or you are just worried because your child is acting very ill. MOST of the time children recover without any serious problems…just a week of not feeling well.
Since we know that Hand Foot and Mouth is being shared by several families…be sure that your family is washing hands well. If your child is ill, keep them home and away from other children for the first few days of the sickness until the child is fever free. Disinfect commonly touched things like toys, doorknobs, and light switches.
Yes, it is summer….and summer always brings lots of fun…and the occasional irritating virus, right now it is hand foot and mouth…this too will pass!
Take a breath, enjoy the joyful moments of each day, and remember you don’t have to be perfect to be the perfect parent.