Childhood illnesses

Hand-foot-mouth virus and the 11 most frequent doubts of parents


Hand-foot-mouth disease is a very common viral infection in childhood. It is very frequent and, although it is usually benign, on many occasions it generates uncertainty that we will solve today. These are the most frequent doubts of parents about the hand-foot-mouth virus.

It is a viral infection, produced by different viruses of the enterovirus family (mainly the Coxsackie virus). Cases can occur throughout the year, but it is typical especially in the summer and early autumn months. On the other hand, it must be said that it usually affects children of infant school age (under 5 years), but also older children and even adults can contract the disease.

1. How is it spread?
The transmission of this virus is directly from person to person, mainly through contact with the feces of sick people (fecal-oral route) and by contact with secretions / droplets that are released when the person coughs, sneezes or blows their nose. (airway). Also through skin lesions (fluid from blisters) and contact with contaminated surfaces and objects.

2. What are the symptoms?
The time between when a person is infected with the virus and begins to start symptoms (incubation period) is variable, being between 3 and 7 days. Initially, very nonspecific variable symptoms may appear with fever (usually lasting 2-3 days), malaise, mucus ... Shortly afterwards, the characteristic skin lesions will appear.

These are lesions that usually start as red dots and turn into small vesicles. They are typically located, as the name says in:

- Mouth: outside the mouth and inside. Lesions inside the mouth, in the form of sores, are painful, so there is often a sore throat and loss of appetite.

- Hand: palms and between the fingers.

- Feet: soles and around the toes.

They can also appear on other parts of the body (often in the diaper area). They usually start as red dots, which turn into small blisters.

3. What is the evolution of the hand-foot-mouth virus?
It is generally a mild process that resolves spontaneously in 7-10 days without leaving sequelae or scars. Sometimes, 4-6 weeks after the eruption, a detachment of the nail appears with its subsequent fall (onychomadesis). This process does not hurt, and the nail will grow back in the following weeks or months.

4. Can there be complications?
Complications are usually exceptional, but you should go to the pediatrician in case of bad evolution of the picture. Mainly highlighting dehydration and weight loss (due to refusal to eat and drink due to pain in the mouth). Febrile seizures can also occur, as with other common childhood infections.

5. How is the hand-foot-mouth virus diagnosed?
The diagnosis is clinical, without being necessary to carry out any test to confirm it. Through the symptoms and physical examination and with the characteristic lesions, your pediatrician will easily suspect this infection.

6. How is it treated?
There is no curative treatment (no antibiotics or other medicine that will kill the infection), as it is caused by viruses. The disease resolves itself, with treatment aimed at alleviating symptoms and avoiding dehydration:

- Analgesics (Ibuprofen or Paracetamol) if the child has fever, pain or discomfort.

- Offer feeding without forcing. Avoid hot, spicy, spicy or acidic foods, as they will increase the pain. Better to offer fresh food.

- Offer fluids frequently.

7. Can my [email protected] go to nursery school?
This virus spreads very easily, especially the first week of illness, but it can also do so when asymptomatic and even weeks after having suffered the disease (the virus continues to be eliminated through secretions and feces). That is why school exclusion is not effective in reducing the spread.

Whether or not to attend nursery school / college will depend on the general condition of the child. If the child has a fever, malaise, mouth lesions cause pain and does not want to eat or drink, it is advisable and more prudent to leave him at home until he recovers.

8. Can you get the infection again?
Yes, since they can be infected several times with the same type of virus or by different viruses that also cause this disease.

9. When should I see the pediatrician?
Many parents don't know very well when to see the doctor. Here are some parameters that will help you:

- If decay or irritability.

- If the child does not want to eat or drink due to the pain of the sores in the mouth.

- If you urinate less and / or the urine is darker.

- If the fever lasts more than 3 days.

10, How can we prevent it?
The most important thing is to take extreme hygiene measures:

- Wash your hands frequently, especially after changing the diaper

- Correctly disinfect surfaces and objects (toys) that have been in contact with saliva and feces.

- Avoid intimate contact with infected people (hugging, kissing ...) and or sharing objects that have been in contact (cutlery, glasses, toothbrush)

- Teach children to cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.

11. Is there a vaccine to prevent it?
Until now there is no specific vaccine against these viruses.

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Video: Hydration is Key to Treat Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (September 2020).