Hand, Foot and Mouth
Hand foot and mouth disease is a viral infection that causes a sore throat, fever and little ulcers to form in the mouth, on the hands, feet, legs and also the buttocks and the back. It’s a fairly common condition in children under 10, and though it is inconvenient, unpleasant and easily spread, it is not particularly harmful. Hand, foot and mouth is not the same thing as foot and mouth disease, which affects cows, sheep and pigs and is only very, very rarely passed on to humans.
The early symptoms of hand, foot and mouth are similar to a cold, and the disease is spread in much the same way: through coming into direct contact with someone who is already infected, especially when they are sneezing or coughing. It can also be spread by touching the blisters themselves, or by coming into contact with an infected child’s poo – including dirty nappies. The symptoms themselves last for about a week, but children can still pass it on to others two or three weeks after the symptoms have gone.
The blisters themselves will appear inside the mouth (these can be on the tongue, the gums or inside the cheeks) and there may also be a red rash, particularly on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet, but potentially spreading across the body. These spots or blisters don’t itch, but the area will feel sore and tender.
There’s no cure for hand, foot and mouth, but in most cases the body will fight off the symptoms in about a week. Junior paracetemol will help ease the temperature, and give your child plenty of liquid to keep them hydrated.
Though not harmful, this is a very infectious condition. Unfortunately, there’s not much parents can do to guard against it other than keeping your child away from anyone who is infected, and making sure they keep their hands clean after going to the loo.
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