How not to hand out this disease...

How not to hand out this disease...

One needs to wait until the hand, foot and mouth disease goes away on its own as there is no treatment to kill the virus, warns Dr Mohit Singhal


Hand, Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD) is a mild and brief illness, more common among younger children less than 10 years old. This disease has no connection with animals. This is an infectious disease that spreads through coughing and sneezing. It can also be passed on if you come in contact with the fluid in blisters.

Such outbreaks could occur in schools. HFMD manifests as an infection initially, resulting in high fever later. Signs would include typical rashes, sore throat and small spots inside the mouth. Spots in the form of small lumps may appear on the lips and around the mouth as well causing mouth ulcers. They may also appear on the skin, hand, feet and buttocks. This should not be mistaken for chickenpox. The disease may last up to a week or 10 days. One needs to wait until the illness goes away on its own as there is no treatment to kill the virus.

Medication on doctor’s advice could be given to bring the temperature caused by fever down and ease the symptoms to make the patient feel comfortable as ulcers could be painful and sore throat can make children and even adults feel miserable.

Keeping the environment cool helps and so also does wearing minimal clothing while at home. It is not advisable to cold-sponge a child who has a fever.

Consuming lots of fluids to avoid dehydration and having ice-creams help children recover faster. If the child is still being breast-fed, then breast-feed the child more as that is the best medicine for an infant.

Avoid salty and spicy food and keep away from citrus fruits.

Mouthwash with warm salty water only if your child is old enough to spit it out and not swallow it.

Always keep your mouth and nose covered while coughing or sneezing. Use disposable tissues instead of a handkerchief.

Adults must wash their hands thoroughly with soap after handling nappies and tissues of children.

Use the hot cycle in the washing machine to wash soiled clothes and towels.

The rash on hands and feet may peel off once the disease subsides; do not scratch or pinch the blisters as the fluid is infectious.

(The author is consultant, neonatology & paediatrics, Apollo Cradle – Brookefield, Bengaluru) 


Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox