Health & Wellness

What Is Hand Foot And Mouth Disease?

What Is Hand Foot And Mouth Disease Posted On
Posted By Emma Aaron

While hand, food and mouth disease may sound like a super serious condition, it is actually a very common childhood illness and more often than not, it is not that serious. Although it is common within childhood, adults can also be affected by it too, which is why it is important to know the symptoms, so you can look out for it within yourself and your children.

Not to be mistaken for foot-and-mouth disease, hand, foot and mouth disease does not come from infected livestock but was instead spread from contact with unwashed hands or surfaces contaminated with faeces. There is a common misconception about these two diseases, as they do share similar names, but it is important to draw a clear distinction, so that no one is misdiagnosed and the proper treatment is issued. Within this article, we will go over the signs and symptoms, the treatment, and how to stop the disease from spreading. Keep on reading to find out more. 

Symptoms of hand foot and mouth disease

Some of the first symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease are similar to that of flu. The patient may start to have a sore throat, a high temperature, and a lack of appetite. When these symptoms occur, many people assume that it is either the flu or a common cold, which is to be expected. For these symptoms, paracetamol can be used to ease some of the effects. After a few days of having hand, foot, and mouth disease symptoms, the patient will start to develop ulcers in the mouth, and a rash can appear on their body. If the ulcers are not immediately obvious in the mouth, be sure to check under the tongue as they can appear there too. However, the ulcers will be painful, so you are more than likely going to notice them straight away as you may struggle to eat and drink. 

Along with the ulcers, the patient will start to get a rash and raised spots on their hands and feet (hence the name), and these spots can also appear on the thighs and bottom too. The spots can vary on colour depending on your skin tone, but they will be raised so you should be able to feel them anyway. If you can see the spots, they may appear a red, pink, or dark red colour. As the disease progresses, the spots can turn to painful, angry blisters, and these will often look grey against your skin. As mentioned in the introduction, people of all ages can get this disease and generally all the symptoms are the same. However, for babies and children under 5, then symptoms can be worse due to their week immune system, so this is something to bear in mind. 

How To Stop It Spreading 

Hand, foot and mouth disease can be passed on easily, so it is important that you know how to avoid spreading it. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Wash your hands often with warm, soapy water
  • Cough and sneeze into tissues
  • Wash bedding and towels immediately after use and on a hot wash
  • Avoid sharing towels 
  • Avoid sharing mugs, cutlery, make-up brushes etc
  • Dispose of used tissues immediately
  • Stay at home from work when you are unwell
  • Do not send children to school or nursery when unwell
  • Treat everyone in the household

Treatment of hand foot and mouth disease

When it comes to the treatment of hand, foot and mouth disease, it will usually get better on its own within about ten days. There is no antibiotic treatment for this disease, so sometimes the best treatment is to just wait it out. However, there are things you can do to ease some of the symptoms. The mouth ulcers can be super painful, so soft, cold food like yoghurt or ice cream can be used to ease some of that pain. It should go without saying but be sure to avoid spicy foods as this will only cause further irritation. If the patient is suffering from a bad sore throat and mouth, then paracetamol or ibuprofen should be administered to help with the pain.

Dehydration is another thing that can come as a result of this disease, so make sure you are staying hydrated and drinking plenty of fluids. It is important to note that acidic drinks like fruit juices can actually cause more irritation, so it would be best to stick to something like water. If you are super concerned or it seems like the symptoms are getting worse, then it is always best to seek medical help. Speak to your doctor or a pharmacist and see if they can recommend any treatments to ease the pain. As mentioned previously, the condition should improve after ten days, but if you are not seeing any improvements, then you need to call your doctor immediately.

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