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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) in Children

    • What is hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD)?

      hand foot mouth disease children

      Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is an illness caused by a group of viruses known as enteroviruses. 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.

    • What are the causes of HMFD in children?

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

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

      Preventing HMFD

      Here are some things you can do to prevent your child from getting HFMD:

      • Teach children the proper way of washing their hands with running water and soap. Rub the hands together with soap for at least 20 seconds. Clean the backs of their hands, between their fingers, and under their nails.
      • Remind them to always wash their hands before and after eating, after using the restroom, after touching their pets, after sneezing or coughing, and after spending time outdoors.
      • Teach children not to put their hands or objects in their mouths.
      • Let your child use only their own feeding utensils, glass, and cup.
      • Disinfect your home regularly, especially the areas where your child frequently stays. Clean surfaces with soap and a diluted solution of bleach and water.
      • Sanitise your child’s toys, feeding utensils, and learning supplies.
      • Avoid close contact with other people if you experience symptoms like blisters, rashes, fever or sore throat. Let your child stay at home to avoid spreading the virus.
    • What are the symptoms of HMFD in children?

      Children with HFMD may show symptoms that last for 7 – 10 days. These include:

      • 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
    • How is HMFD in children treated?

      Home treatment of HFMD

      Ensure 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.

      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)

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