Hand, food, and mouth disease (HFMD) is common among children under 5 years of age. The disease is usually not serious but is contagious and can be passed on from little one to little one, especially when little ones are engaged in school or at day care centres. Symptoms of the disease include fever and flu-like symptoms along with skin rashes that form on the hand or feet and mouth sores hence the name of the disease. HFMD is caused by a virus in the Enterovirus family, and it spreads through sneeze or cough droplets, person to person contact and encountering contaminated surfaces or objects.
Be On a Lookout for HFMD Signs
Little ones often get a fever and other flu-like symptoms three to six days after they catch the virus. Signs of the symptom include feverish temperature, eating or drinking less, sore throat and feeling unwell. One or two days after the fever starts, your little one may get painful mouth sores. These sores usually start as small red spots, often in the back of their mouth, that blister and can become painful. Signs that swallowing may be painful for your child includes not eating or drinking, drooling more than usual, and only wanting to drink cold fluids. Your little one may get a skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also show up on the knees, elbows, buttocks, or genital area. The rash usually looks like flat, red spots, sometimes with blisters. Fluid in the blister and the resulting scab that forms as the blister heals may contain the virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease. Keep blisters or scabs clean and avoid touching them.
Ways To Protect Children From HFMD
If your child has been or is in the vicinity of someone who is infected with HFMD. You will want to protect your little one from getting infected with these preventative measures.
Refrain Your Little One from Touching Their Eyes, Nose & Mouth
Your little one can get infected with hand, foot, and mouth disease if the virus gets on their hands and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth. To lessen your little one’s chance of getting sick, ensure they refrain from touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Sanitize And Disinfect
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and shared items such as toys and doorknobs.
Keep Their Hands Clean
Teach them to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It will come in handy if you carry sanitizers around to constantly disinfect both your little one’s hands and your own as well. Always have your little ones wash their hands after using the toilet or after blowing their nose, cough, or sneeze. Help your little ones wash their hands by teaching them how to wash their hands and make sure they wash them often with these tips:
Develop The Habit - Parents and caretakers play an important role in teaching their little ones how to wash their hands. Handwashing can become a lifelong healthy habit if you start teaching it at an early age. Teach kids the five easy steps for handwashing—wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry—and the key times to wash hands, such as after using the bathroom or before eating. You can find ways to make it fun, like making up your own handwashing song or turning it into a game.
Remind Them - Building handwashing skills takes time. At first, your little one will need regular reminders of how and when to wash hands. It is especially important to remind your little ones to wash their hands after using the bathroom, before eating, after touching pets, after playing outside, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose. But once handwashing becomes a habit and a regular part of your child’s day, they will practice it throughout their lives.
Be An Example – Little ones learn by imitating the behaviours of adults in their lives. When you make handwashing part of your routine, you’re setting an example for your little ones to follow.
Have Your Little One Avoid Contact with HFMD Infected People
Teach your little ones to avoid meeting someone who is infected HFMD by keeping a distance and refraining from touch as well. On another note, if your little one is infected with HFMD, have your little one stay at home until they have recovered from the disease in 7 to 10 days.