Dealing with hand, foot, mouth disease (HFMD)

A few months ago my daughter caught the hand, foot, mouth disease (HFMD) at the daycare. And then I did. And then my friend did too. We all had spent a long weekend out of the city together while it turns out she had already been infected (but it wasn’t obvious because HFMD can be contagious before symptoms start manifesting).

I had never heard about this illness before, and only some parents with toddlers had heard about it in my circle of friends. Not sure if this is a ‘new’ illness or what, what I know is it wasn’t popular when I was a child so I hadn’t had it. Never too late.

What is hand, foot, mouth disease

The hand, foot, mouth disease is a viral illness that usually affects babies and children under 5 years old. It’s basically a skin rash – sometimes with blisters too – that can appear in your mouth (inside and outside), hands, and / or feet. In our case, we had a rash outside our mouth, hands and feet. In my case the feet were the worst. In my daughter’s case her hands were the worst part (same for my friend).

In the United States its most common cause is the Coxsackievirus A16. It seems that it’s most likely to occur in the summer and early fall (although we had it in spring).

Symptoms and transmission

One of the tricky things with the hand, foot, mouth disease is that it’s very contagious, even before the symptoms are visible, so it’s easy to not be careful enough (like in our case). Actually, we were told the first week is when it’s more contagious (and via more places). Symptoms include:

  • Fever

  • Sore throat

  • Sore on tongue, gums or inside the cheek

  • Red rash or blisters

While I didn’t have fever, the sore throat was one of the worsts I’ve ever had in my whole life. My daughter got fever a couple of days before the skin rash started. Luckily, none of us got blisters inside our mouth. That is good because at least she was eating and drinking – less than usual, but still – and she wasn’t at risk of dehydration.

The viruses can be found in a person’s nose and throat secretions (saliva, sputum, nasal mucus), blister fluid, and feces (stool). And there are multiple ways in which you can get infected:

  • Close personal contact

  • Through the air (coughing, sneezing)

  • Contact with feces (diaper change)

  • Contact with contaminated objects and surfaces

For us, I’m 95% sure a bowl of strawberries that the three of us shared is to blame :O

How to help your baby with HFMD

The doctor told us there’s not much that you can do, it’ll just go away in a couple of weeks (she was better after a couple of days, and fully recovered after 10 days since the symptoms started being visible).  But here’s a few things that worked for us:

  • Ibuprofen or tylenol for fever

  • Hydrocortisone cream for the itchiness

  • Cold water (with ice) for pain relieve (in hands and feet)

  • Stay hydrated, drink lost of fluids

Hopefully, you don’t need this information, but if you do, I hope I’ve captured enough useful stuff for you!

Featured image by Freepik