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Hand, foot and mouth disease: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help

About hand, foot and mouth disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection caused by Coxsackievirus and characterized by mouth sores and skin lesions. It is a common viral affliction which is contagious and spreads from person to person via respiratory droplets.

Hand, foot and mouth disease: Incidence, age and sex

Hand, foot and mouth disease is commonly encountered in the general population and no clear cut gender bias is observed. It mainly afflicts young children, especially those less than 1 year of age. However, it may affect an individual of any age group.

Signs and symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease: Diagnosis

The clinical features generally appear within a week’s time after exposure. It constitutes generalised features like fever, headache and loss of appetite. The affected individual experiences soreness in the throat which is followed by ulcers in the mouth and the throat. The disease may progress with eruption of skin lesions which may form blisters. These skin lesions appear on palms of hands and soles of feet. Occasionally, the diaper area may also be involved. These skin rashes are usually non-itchy in nature. A detailed history and physical examination is enough to make a diagnosis.

Causes and prevention of hand, foot and mouth disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by Coxsackievirus A16 which belongs to the family of enterovirus. It can spread from person to person through direct contact with respiratory droplets of infective individual. Frequent hand washing and staying away from the infective individual may help in preventing this infection.

Hand, foot and mouth disease: Complications

The complications of hand, foot and mouth disease are usually encountered in infants and include convulsions during an episode of high fever. Sometimes, individuals may experience dehydration which is manifested by dry skin, sunken eyes, reduced urine output and lethargy.

Hand, foot and mouth disease: Treatment

There is no specific treatment of hand, foot and mouth disease. Symptomatic relief is the mainstay of treatment. Antipyretic medications may be prescribed to manage fever and malaise. Mouth gargles with warm, salt water may help in resolution of soreness of the mouth. Intake of plenty of fluids is advisable to prevent dehydration. This infection is usually self limiting and usually resolves completely within a few days.