Hand foot and mouth disease is a mild, contagious viral infection common in young children, characterized by sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. The common cause of infection is a virus called coxsackievirus. It lives in the human digestive system. It spreads from person to person, usually from unwashed hands or surface contamination. Hand foot and mouth disease is mostly an illness suffered by children. It is contagious. Many parents that are exposed to this virus are carriers but they never get sick from it. This disease is not related to hoof and mouth disease found in farm animals. You cannot get hoof and mouth disease from pets or other animals and you cannot transmit it to them.
This virus primarily affects children younger than age ten. Children in child care are especially susceptible to outbreaks because the infection spreads by person to person contact. Young children in child care have lots of interaction with other children. Children usually develop immunity to hand foot and mouth disease as they get older by building antibodies after exposure to the virus.
The most common complication is dehydration. This illness can cause sores in the mouth and throat making swallowing difficult. Make sure that your child is drinking plenty of liquid during this virus, Soda and juice may work the best as a beverage choice. Fever, sore throat, and loss of appetite may also occur. Children tend to get cranky when they are sick with the virus.
Hand foot and mouth disease is a minor illness causing a few days of fever and mild signs and symptoms. No specific treatment is required. Signs and symptoms clear up in seven to ten days.
Here are some home remedies that will help comfort your child if they get this virus. Give them a small plastic cup with ice chips to suck on. Try popsicles. Avoid salty or spicy foods while ill. Avoid food with lots of acid which will make their sore throat feel worse. Soft foods will be easier to swallow. Ice cream or sherbet will make a yummy treat.
Remember to wash hands thoroughly and often.