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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

    • What is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?

      Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is an illness caused by a group of viruses known as enteroviruses. HFMD presents with symptoms such as rash or blisters on the hands, feet and around the mouth as well as oral ulcers. These can be painful and can lead to poor fluid intake and dehydration.

      Most cases of HFMD are mild and self-limiting. However, the EV71 strain of the virus may cause complications to the nervous system, heart, and lungs on rare occasions.

      HFMD can affect people of all ages, especially children below 5 years old.

      If your child has HFMD, they may display these symptoms:

      • Fever
      • Sore throat
      • Rash or small blisters on palms of hands, inner thighs, soles of feet, and buttocks
      • Mouth or throat ulcers
      • Poor appetite
      • Lethargy

      These symptoms may last between 7 – 10 days.

    • How can I manage my child at home?

      HFMD is highly contagious. Keep your child indoors and away from other children or elderly till they have fully recovered.

      Ensure that your child has adequate rest and fluids.

      Due to painful oral ulcers, your child may not want to eat or drink. Use oral numbing drops or gels to coat the ulcers in younger children and infants. You can also give regular paracetamol and ibuprofen for pain relief prior to feeding.

      You can feed your child cool liquids or foods such as juices, ice creams or yoghurts which may be easier to take with a painful mouth.

      Leave the blisters to dry out naturally. They are usually not itchy and do not require additional creams, lotions or medication for symptom relief.

      Observe good hand hygiene measures while taking care of your child to prevent the disease from spreading.

    • When should I bring my child to a doctor?

      You should bring your child to a doctor if they display any of the following symptoms:

      • Refusal to drink
      • Signs of dehydration such as poor urine output, dry lips or tongue, sunken eyes
      • Drowsiness or increased lethargy
      • Seizures/fits
      • Hard or fast breathing
      • For clearance to return to childcare or school (when blisters have fully dried up and oral ulcers have healed)
    • How can I prevent my child from getting HFMD?

      HFMD is contagious. It can spread through an infected person’s saliva, nasal discharges, faeces, or fluids from the blisters. Your child may get HFMD if they touch a contaminated toy, shares utensils with an infected person, or come into contact with droplets from an infected person who coughs or sneezes.

      As there are many different strains of viruses causing HFMD, it is possible to get HFMD on multiple occasions.

      Teach your child and maintain good hygiene practices such as:

      • regular handwashing
      • not sharing cups or utensils

      If your child has been in close contact with a case of HFMD, keep them away from other young children or elderly for 5 days as it may take time for symptoms to fully develop.

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