Most parents are familiar with hand-foot-and-mouth disease, or HFMD for short, because the disease commonly affects young children, and therefore is something that pediatricians usually discuss with their patients’ parents. While rare, the disease can sometimes occur in older children and adults. If you or a loved one is suffering from hand-foot-and-mouth disease, home healthcare services may be required. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we can answer your questions about free home healthcare services.
What Is HFMD?
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a contagious infection that is characterized by sores/a rash on three locations: within the mouth and on the hands and feet. The condition is caused by a virus, which is typically spread between young children. The symptoms include:
- Sore throat;
- Painful blisters on the tongue, gums, and inner cheeks;
- A non-itchy rash on the soles of the feet and palms of the hand;
- Irritability (in young children); and
- Loss of appetite.
Who Gets HFMD and How Is It Transmitted?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2019) report that hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most common in children younger than five years of age. (The disease can occur in older children and adults, although this is much less common.) The disease is caused by a virus or set of viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus group – the most common cause of HFMD is coxsackievirus A 16.
The virus is found in an infected person’s blister fluid, feces, and nose and throat secretions (e.g. saliva and snot). The virus is passed from person-to-person in the way that most viruses are: through personal contact/touch with an infected person, through the air if an infected person coughs or sneezes, through contact with a contaminated object, or through contact with feces (e.g. changing a baby’s diaper).
How to Reduce Your Risk of Contracting Hand-foot-and-mouth Disease
Note that because HFMD is a viral infection that is spread from person-to-person, there are some easy things that you can do to reduce the risk of you or your child getting HFMD. These include:
- Keep a distance from those whom you know to be infected. If there’s an outbreak at school or amongst your child’s friend group, keep your child at home until the condition has cleared. Note that it is common for adults to get infected without demonstrating any symptoms, which means that you or another parent could pass the disease to your children without knowing it.
- Always wash your hands. It’s important that you wash your hands thoroughly, especially after doing things like changing a diaper. You should also wash your child’s hands thoroughly. This is especially true before eating.
- Disinfect common areas and shared objects. The virus that causes HFMD can be transmitted from an infected person to surfaces, increasing the risk of another person becoming infected. Something that you can do to reduce this risk is to regularly sanitize/disinfect common areas and shared toys and other objects.
Are There Any Complications of Hand-foot-and-mouth Disease?
In the vast majority of cases, HFMD is a minor illness that will heal in a few days or weeks, and which won’t require any intensive treatment (Mayo Clinic 2017). The most common complication associated with the condition is dehydration, which may occur if sores on the mouth make drinking fluids painful. While very rare, there are some serious forms of the coxsackievirus that can lead to more serious complications, including viral meningitis and encephalitis. In most cases, this is not something that parents need to worry about it.
Treatment for HFMD
If you or your child contract what you think is HFMD, it’s important to see a doctor. While there is no specific treatment, if your doctor diagnoses the condition as HFMD disease, it’s best to keep your child at home until they are no longer contagious to reduce the risk of them passing the condition to others. Over-the-counter pain medications may also help to alleviate discomfort.
Luckily, the condition should clear up entirely within seven to 10 days – if it does not, you should return to the doctor.
Does Hand-foot-and-mouth Disease Qualify Me for Free, In-home Healthcare?
If you or your child has been diagnosed with HFMD, you may be thinking about how you’ll be able to stay home to care for yourself or your little one. At United Energy Workers Healthcare, we provide free, high-quality, in-home healthcare for those with qualifying conditions under the EEOICPA/RECA program. To learn more about these benefits, please reach out to us today.
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/index.html
Mayo Clinic. (2017, July 26). Hand-food-and-mouth disease. Retrieved from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hand-foot-and-mouth-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353035