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Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) with children

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common infection caused by the enterovirus. HFMD typically occurs on children under the age of 10 especially during the end of summer and autumn.

How is the HFMD transmitted?

The HFMD is very contagious and is transmitted through feces or nasopharyngeal secretions.

Incubation period: 3 to 7 days.

What are the symptoms of HFMD?

The symptoms of HFMD are fever, headaches, a sore throat, stomach pains and general weakness. After a few days red spots will start to form especially on the oral mucosa, the palms, the soles and sometimes on other parts of the skin. Ulcers and blisters may also start to form on these red spots. Often the disease has only mild symptoms or doesn't have any symptoms at all and sometimes it just resembles a normal flu. The symptoms typically last for 7 to 10 days. Unlike the chicken pox, HFMD can appear more than once, since a long-term immunity won't develop for the disease. This is partly, because of the alteration in the enteroviruses.

How is the HFMD treated?

There aren't any specific treatments or preventing vaccinations for the HFMD. The treatment therefore depends on the symptoms. Anti-inflammatory drugs can help with headaches, fever or pain from the blisters for example. If blisters in the mouth are painful, consuming liquid foods can make eating easier.

When to the doctor?

Typically the HFMD is mild and will heal on its own. A visit to the doctor is necessary if one's general well-being gets worse, fever stays high for multiple days or painful headaches and stiffness of the neck are part of the symptoms. Remember, that you can get help from the OmaMehiläinen's Digital Clinic everyday around the clock!

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How to avoid getting the HFMD?

Good hand hygiene is the best way to prevent getting the disease. Hands should be carefully washed with soap especially after going to the toilet, changing diapers and before eating.

Text: LL, a pediatric speacialist Maria Enlund-Cerullo
Sources: THL, Terveyskirjasto