Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a highly contagious viral infection that often affects young children. Since it is so contagious, outbreaks are common in daycare centers, preschools, and elementary schools. The symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever, sore throat, and tiredness. A few days after the onset of a fever, a child will develop an itchy rash or blisters on the palms of his or her hands and the soles of the feet. Some children also develop blisters in their mouth that can be painful. If you have young children in your household, use the following tips to prevent hand, foot, and mouth disease:
Promote Careful Hand Washing
Like many diseases, one of the easiest ways to prevent hand, foot, and mouth disease is by careful and frequent hand washing. Teach young children how to properly wash their hands with soap and water, or take the time to wash their hands for them if they are too young to do it on their own. It is especially important to wash hands after using the restroom, preparing food, or changing a diaper. It is also a good idea to keep hand sanitizer on hand to clean hands when a sink with soap and water is not available.
Disinfect and Clean Surfaces That Are Touched Often
The virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease can live on solid surfaces for an extended amount of time, so it is important to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently, such as door handles, the refrigerator handle, and counter tops. In order to kill the virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease, it is best to use a bleach-based cleaning agent.
If there has been an outbreak of hand, foot, and mouth disease at your child's day care or school, make sure you ask about the measures taken to disinfect the classrooms and any toys or objects that the children may share.
Avoid Close Contact
One of the reasons that hand, foot, and mouth disease is so contagious is due to the fact that children are often in close contact with each other. If there has been an outbreak of hand, foot, and mouth disease among family members, at school or daycare, or with your children's friends, it is essential to abstain from close contact with anyone who is currently infected. Avoid hugging, kissing, and sharing utensils and cups with anyone who has hand, foot, and mouth disease, and contact your child's pediatrician the moment you notice any symptoms.