What is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?
It is a viral illness caused by a type of virus called Coxsackie virus A16. It can also be caused by other coxsackie Virus A-7, A-9, A-10, B-1. B-3 and Enterovirus 71 etc. Since it can be caused by a number of other Viruses, a single attack does not give a life-long immunity and a child may get a second or a third attack.
It usually spreads by direct contact with an infected child through oral droplets, nasal secretions.
The incubation period is around one week. It usually affects children less than five years.
The symptoms include fever, body ache, poor appetite, irritability, vesicular lesions (Fluid filled blisters) in the mouth, hands, under side of feet, buttocks, elbow and knees. The rash usually resolves spontaneously by 3-6 days. The diagnosis is usually clinical and blood tests are not required.
No specific medication is available to treat Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. However, since the disease is a self-limiting one, only symptomatic treatment is recommended.
Anti-pyretics for fever and pain are advised (Usually paracetamol). Local anti-itching lotion on the skin lesions and glycerine on the mouth lesions are helpful.
The child should be well hydrated. Fruit juices and carbonated drinks contains some amount of acid and may irritate the mouth lesions. Cold milk and ice-cream can be soothing.
Since HFMD is contagious, the infected children should take rest at home till the lesions heal. Since it can be caused by a number of coxsackie Viruses, a single attack does not give a lifelong immunity and a child may get a second or a third attack.
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