Private GP Concierge Medical’s guide to hand, foot and mouth disease, a contagious disease caused by viruses, which is common in infants and children under 5 years old appears to be sweeping through children in North Wiltshire/South Gloucestershire at the moment.
Most children have mild symptoms for 7 to 10 days and it is easily treated at home. As a less well-known disease, (and nothing to do with foot and mouth disease that affects farm animals), here is our 6-point guide for parents:
1. How it spreads
Hand, foot, and mouth disease spreads easily through `
Respiratory droplets containing virus particles when an infected coughs or sneezes
Contact with contaminated surfaces and objects
People with hand, foot, and mouth disease are usually most contagious during the first week that they are sick. People can sometimes spread the virus to others for days or weeks after symptoms go away or if they have no symptoms at all.
Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease usually include fever, mouth sores, and skin rash commonly found on the hands, mouth, and/or feet.
Children often get a fever and other flu-like symptoms after they catch the virus. Other symptoms may appear over the next few days.
Fever and flu-like symptoms
o Your child may get painful mouth sores. These sores usually start as small red spots, often in the back of their mouth, that blister and can become painful.
o Your child may get a skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. It may also show up on the knees, elbows, buttocks, or genital area.
o The rash usually looks like flat, red spots, sometimes with blisters. Fluid in the blister and the resulting scab that forms as the blister heals may contain the virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease. Keep blisters or scabs clean and avoid touching them.
3. What to do if your child has hand, foot, and mouth disease
Often the infection is mild, and symptoms can be treated at home. To help the symptoms:
drink fluids to prevent dehydration – avoid acidic drinks, such as fruit juice
eat soft foods like yoghurt – avoid hot and spicy foods
take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help ease a sore mouth or throat and fever
However, you may need to call a doctor if:
Your child is not drinking enough to stay hydrated
Your child’s fever lasts longer than 3 days
Your child has a weakened immune system
Symptoms are severe
Symptoms do not improve after 10 days
Your child is very young, (younger than 6 months)
4. Diagnosing hand, foot, and mouth disease
Diagnosis is made by examining the patient and considering their age, symptoms and the look of the rash and mouth sores. Your doctor can also take samples from the patient’s throat, blister, or faeces and then send them to a laboratory to test for the virus, but this is seldom necessary.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is usually not serious. Nearly all people get better in 7 to 10 days with no or minimal treatment. Complications from hand, foot, and mouth disease are rare.
Wash your hands frequently and well
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
Avoid close contact with unwell people
Stay home if you are unwell
If you are concerned about your child’s health, discuss with your doctor at the first opportunity.
Founded in 2013, Concierge Medical Practice has progressed to become a national award-winning private General Practice, providing the best healthcare to individual clients and businesses throughout Cotswolds, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, and Oxfordshire.
Our members have a named private doctor, providing on-going continuity of care. Our list size is kept small to guarantee availability and quality. We are a home-visiting practice, so all consultations with the private doctor are at our member’s home or office (or by phone, video, text etc). Our private doctors are readily contactable for home visits, remote consultations, advice and support. We have a strong network of secondary care and allied health professionals who complement our general practice services and whom we can readily access. All our private doctors are full time employees of Concierge Medical. They are all experienced GPs and have chosen to work as Concierge doctors as they understand and value the benefits of a strong patient-doctor relationship.
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