Hand Foot Mouth Disease Guide – What Is HFMD, Symptoms And More
Hand foot mouth disease (HFMD) is a common disease that usually affects infants and children aged below 5 years old. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this disease and how to prevent your loved ones from catching it.
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The contents of this article is meant as general health information and should not be treated as professional medical advice. If you need professional medical help, please consult your healthcare practitioner.
What is Hand Foot Mouth Disease?
Hand Foot Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a type of mild, contagious viral infection caused by the coxsackievirus. It typically affects young children and presents itself as sores in the mouth and rash on hands and feet (hence, the name Hand Foot Mouth Disease).
How is Hand Foot Mouth Disease transmitted?
The virus that causes HFMD can be found in bodily fluids like saliva, mucus from the nose or lungs, and fluid from blisters or scabs and even faeces. It is transmitted through coughing or sneezing, close contact such as kissing, hugging, sharing cups, or sharing utensils, contact with faeces (like when changing a diaper) and also touching surfaces that has the virus.
Is Hand Foot Mouth Disease contagious?
HFMD is the most contagious during the first week of infection. The virus can be spread within days or weeks after all the symptoms are gone, or even if there are no symptoms at all.
Who is at risk of getting Hand Foot Mouth Disease?
Anyone can contract the HFMD, but children under the age of 5 have a higher risk of infection. It spreads easily during the summer and fall. Based on a systemic review done to investigate risk factors of HFMD, it was shown that children under 5 years of age, males, poor hygiene and high frequency of social contact are the main risk factors.
Symptoms of Hand Foot Mouth Disease
Most of the patients have mild symptoms for 7 to 10 days. Early symptoms include fever, sore throat, painful blisters inside the mouth or on the tongue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, fatigue and crankiness. Typically 1-2 days later, the patient will suffer from rashes that turn into blisters and flat spots or sores on their knees, elbows or buttocks. Mouth sores can develop which make it difficult and painful to swallow. Hence, as parents its important to be aware that eating or drinking less than usual could be an early sign HFMD.
Hand Foot Mouth Disease in Malaysia
As reported by FreeMalaysiaToday, in the first four months of 2022, Malaysian health officials have reported a total of 22463 cases of HFMD in Malaysia. It had increased by 12.8 times compared to the same period in 2021, which was only 1752 cases. The Ministry of Health stated that up to 94% of the cases were among children ages six and below, whereas 5% were within the range of 7 and 12 years old.
Are there vaccines for Hand Foot Mouth Disease?
Currently, there is no vaccine available for HFMD.
Hand Foot Mouth Disease Preventative Measures
Preventative measures should be paid attention to especially by the parents to reduce the risk of infection. Firstly, wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Washing hands is important, especially after changing diapers, using the toilet, blowing nose, coughing or sneezing as well as before and after taking care of someone who is sick. Children should also be taught the correct ways to wash their hands. Secondly, clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and shared items such as toys and doorknobs. Thirdly, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands to reduce the risk of getting infected. Lastly, avoid having close contact including touching, hugging and kissing those who have HFMD.
If you have any questions about Hand Foot Mouth Disease or other health related issues, you can speak to our pharmacists via our telepharmacy service below.