Can Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease Happen To A Child Twice?
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a viral and contagious disease that happens to children. Some parents fear that it might occur more than once in a child's life.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is common in infants and children below the age of five. However, adults and children above the age of five can get hand, foot, and mouth disease. The disease is transmissible by direct contact with the carrier’s saliva, unwashed hand, blister fluids, and faecal matter. The disease vanishes within days even without seeking medical help, but for most people, the concern is whether hand, foot, and mouth disease can happen twice.
However, though rare, a person with HFMD can develop viral meningitis, paralysis, or encephalitis, which can be deadly. HFMD usually manifests in the form of blisters in the mouth and rashes across the hands and feet.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by different viruses including coxsackievirus A16 and many other enteroviruses. This means that HFMD is caused by several viruses.
Thus, here’s the trick. When your body recovers from a viral infection, it builds immunity for that particular virus, so that if the same virus invades the body again your immune system already knows how to fight it. But the fact that HFMD is not caused by only one virus leaves you susceptible to another bout of HFMD.
According to Pediatrician Scott Oelberg, DO, UnityPoint Health, the virus usually goes away in about a week. The sores in the mouth heal faster than the ones on the hands and feet. Those can last for up to ten days.
“Since the illness is generally harmless, and because it is very difficult to prevent the spread of this virus once it has started, it is not practical or necessary to isolate children for the duration of the illness.
Children should be able to return to daycare or school once their fever has resolved. I recommend following the guidelines set by your child’s daycare or school for returning after an illness. Those rules are usually to be fever-free for 24 hours,” Dr Oelberg says.
Sometimes, you may not even have any symptoms, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pass it to others.
The symptoms of HFMD in both children and adults include:
- Sore throat
- Skin rashes
- Low appetite
- Mouth sores
The most obvious sign of HFMD is skin rash and a day or two feeling unwell. The rashes differ from person to person. They might look red and flat, or blistered. The rashes appear on the hands and feet. But they can also appear elsewhere on the body:
- Pelvic area
If your child is having a bout of hand, foot, and mouth disease for the first or second time, here are a few remedies to calm the symptoms.
- Make sure the child stays hydrated
- Give the child milk
- Do not give the child any acidic drinks
- Do not give the child any salty or spicy foods. Instead, give the child soup or yoghurt.
- The child can take ice-cream
- Rinse the child’s mouth after eating
Here are a few preventive measures against hand, foot, and mouth disease.
Wash your hands regularly
Wash your hands regularly with warm water and soap for at least twenty seconds. One of the surest ways to reduce the chances of contracting HFMD.
Also, wash your child’s hands regularly, especially before eating, using the bathroom, and changing diapers.
Rinse your children’s toys regularly
Children sometimes take their toys to their mouths. So wash them out with warm water and soap. Additionally, air the toys out in the sun. This may help get rid of the virus.
Teach your children to wash their hands regularly
Teach your children how to properly wash their hands. You can be creative about the means to motivate them. Maybe use positive reinforcement or promise to let them have their favourite chocolate.
Stay home if you contract HFMD
Take a break and rest at home if you catch HFMD. Don’t go to work. Stay away from crowded areas so you don’t infect other people. And if you must go anywhere a carrier of the virus has been, take the following measures.
- Avoid hugging or kissing
- Don’t share cutlery
- Don’t share bottles or straws
Though hand, foot, and mouth disease is a mild sickness, that doesn’t mean that things can’t get out of hand. So keep an eye on your child and if you notice abnormal symptoms like stiff neck and fever lasting for more than three days.
Read also: HFMD: How to identify and treat it timely