Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Children: Recognizing and Preventing the Outbreak
As summer arrives, various diseases tend to break out among children, and one common ailment is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD). Maintaining cleanliness and hygiene practices is crucial for parents to protect their little ones.
Furthermore, it is essential to carefully monitor children for signs of illness and promptly recognize symptoms of neurotoxicity to ensure timely and appropriate treatment.
Recognizing Children with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease:
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in children often exhibits recognizable signs, including:
Fever: Children may experience a mild or high fever. A persistent high fever that does not respond to treatment can be an indication of a more severe condition.
Skin Lesions: Redness and blisters commonly appear in specific areas such as the throat, around the mouth, palms, soles, buttocks, and knees.
Additional Symptoms: Some children may also experience mouth pain, loss of appetite, vomiting, increased salivation, diarrhea, fatigue, and fussiness.
When parents detect these symptoms in their child, it is advisable to seek medical attention, particularly from a pediatric infectious disease specialist. These professionals can provide guidance on caring for the child, monitoring symptoms, and promptly identifying any worsening conditions to prevent unfortunate consequences.
Signs of Serious Illness:
Certain signs indicate a potentially serious condition that requires immediate attention, including:
Persistent Crying: Unrelenting crying, especially during the night without sleep, can be an early sign of neurotoxicity rather than merely mouth sores. Parents should be aware of this symptom and seek medical advice.
Unrelieved High Fever: If a high fever (above 38.5 degrees Celsius) persists for more than 48 hours and does not respond to common antipyretic medication, it may indicate a strong inflammatory response leading to neurotoxicity. In such cases, specialized antipyretic drugs containing Ibuprofen may be required.
Startle Reflex: An increased frequency of startle reflexes, even during playtime, can also indicate neurotoxicity. It is important to monitor this symptom closely.
Treatment and Care:
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is caused by various viruses, and specific antiviral treatments are not available. However, parents can take certain steps at home to alleviate discomfort and aid recovery:
Pain Relief and Oral Antiseptics: Administer pain relievers and use oral mucosal antiseptics such as 0.9% saline or Kamistad as prescribed by a doctor.
Easy-to-Digest Foods: Offer the child liquid and easily digestible foods, such as thin porridge or milk, to ensure adequate nutrition despite oral discomfort.
Skin Hygiene: Maintain skin hygiene to prevent bacterial superinfection. Bathe the child using mild antiseptic solutions like tea leaves or duckweed. After bathing, apply Betadin solution to any skin lesions.
Principles of Disease Prevention:
To prevent the spread of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease and protect children from contracting the illness, it is crucial to follow these preventive measures:
Frequent Handwashing: Encourage regular handwashing with soap and running water for both adults and children. It is especially important before preparing food, before eating or feeding, before holding children, after using the bathroom, and after changing diapers or cleaning the baby.
Good Food Hygiene: Maintain good food hygiene practices, including thoroughly washing eating utensils before use (preferably soaking them in boiling water), ensuring the use of clean water, avoiding sharing food among children, and preventing children from sucking or chewing on toys. Additionally, discourage the sharing of napkins, handkerchiefs, and eating utensils such as cups, bowls, plates, spoons, and toys.
Regular Cleaning: Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as toys, school supplies, doorknobs, stair handrails, tables, chairs, and floors, using soap or common detergents.
Avoid Contact with Sick Individuals: Do not allow children to come into contact with individuals who are already sick or suspected of having Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease.
Home Isolation: If a child is diagnosed with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, it is crucial to keep them at home and avoid sending them to kindergartens or schools for the first 10-14 days of illness. This helps prevent the spread of the disease to other children.
Overall, it is important not to be complacent. If you observe any of the aforementioned signs in your child, it is advisable to take them to a medical facility for examination and specific instructions. Children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years are particularly susceptible to respiratory problems, respiratory infections, skin diseases, and gastrointestinal infections. Therefore, parents must pay special attention to their care and ensure they receive adequate nutrition.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease is a common childhood illness that requires proper recognition and preventive measures. By being vigilant in observing symptoms, seeking medical attention when necessary, practicing good hygiene habits, and following the principles of disease prevention, parents can protect their children from the spread of this disease.
Remember, early detection and timely intervention are essential in managing Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease and ensuring the well-being of children during the outbreak.