Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease is a common childhood illness that causes sores to appear either in or on the mouth of an infected child, as well as in the hands and feet; hence the name. This disease is caused by an enterovirus, and easily spreads via coughing, sneezing, or exposure to infected stool. Due to the various ways that the disease can spread, community outbreaks of Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease are a common occurrence.
Not to be confused with Foot-and-Mouth disease, which is common among livestock, Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease symptoms usually appear anywhere from three to seven days after exposure to the enterovirus. After this incubation period, a child may begin to experience a sore throat, fatigue, or a fever. The trademark blisters associated with the disease often appear within a day or two after the onset of the initial symptoms.
Typically, Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease is not a serious illness, with the sores usually disappearing on their own after a week. However, the virus can easily stay in a child’s stool for a few months after symptoms disappear. As such, teaching children to wash their hands properly and often, and covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing can help prevent the rapid spread of the disease.If you suspect that you’re child has Hand-Foot-and-Mouth disease, contact your pediatrician for proper diagnosis, and to ask for other tips that can help relieve the discomfort of your child.