Have you recently noticed a rash forming on your child’s hands, feet or near their mouth? Your child may have come into contact with hand, foot and mouth disease. Most common in children under the age of 5, it is a highly contagious virus that can spread to adults through direct contact with unwashed hands or bodily materials. Symptoms last for up to 10 days and may heal without medication, but can be misdiagnosed as a virus with comparable signs. If your child begins presenting with symptoms, you should bring them to your local AFC Urgent Center for professional diagnosis.

What Symptoms are Associated with Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease?

The most visible indication of hand, foot and mouth disease is a rash on the hands, feet, and near the mouth. The rash presents as red bumps along legs, arms, and the torso, but can turn to sores and blisters closer to the mouth. As the rash continues, it may be accompanied by a fever, sore throat, dehydration and loss of appetite. Swallowing may be painful or difficult if sores have formed in the mouth. The virus is spread through physical contact with people who are infected, as well as objects that have come into contact with the disease. Commonly touched surfaces such as faucets, handles, and railings should be completely disinfected immediately upon the virus affecting a member of your home or workplace. If your child contracts the virus, it can be spread to you while you are changing a diaper. Hand, foot and mouth disease is at its most infectious during the first seven days, but can still be spread for weeks after symptoms are resolved.

How to Prevent Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease

Following correct hygiene habits is the easiest way to prevent an outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease. As soon as you begin to toilet-train your child, you should teach them how to wash their hands to reduce the spread of germs, including using soap and hot water for at least 30 seconds. In order to better convey the time needed, have them sing a verse of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star as they wash their hands. After handling raw food (especially meat), using the bathroom or changing a dirty diaper, you should wash your hands. Before and after food preparation, you should wipe down your workspace to prevent germs from contaminating your food. Commonly touched surfaces such as tabletops, doorknobs and stair railings should be disinfected throughout the day to reduce germs. If a member of your family is affected, avoid physical contact or sharing cups and utensils until you are able to see a doctor.

If a member of your family has begun to develop a rash that may be related to hand, foot and mouth disease, visit your local AFC Urgent Care Center for efficient diagnosis and treatment.