This is Not Chicken Pox….

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common and contagious viral illness that usually affects children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in adults. It looks like chicken pox, so anybody can be confused. It usually starts with a fever, loss of appetite, sore throat and a feeling of being unwell (malaise). One or two days after the fever, painful sores can develop in the back of the mouth, as small red spots that blister and can become ulcers(herpangina). A skin rash with red spots, and sometimes with blisters, may also develop over one or two days on the palm and sole; it may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area giving an impression of chicken pox. Some people, especially young children, may get dehydrated if they are not able to swallow enough liquid because of painful mouth ulcers. The virus that causes hand, foot, and mouth disease can be spread by the infected person’s saliva, cough, or nasal secretion, blister fluid, and stool. Generally, a person with hand, foot, and mouth disease is most contagious during the first week of illness. You child should stay home while he/she is sick with hand, foot, and mouth disease. Treatment is only symptomatic- paracetamol to relieve pain and fever (Aspirin should not be given to children), mouthwashes or sprays that numb mouth pain, enough liquid to prevent dehydration. There is no vaccine to protect against the virus. Some measures can prevent the spread of infection like hand washing with soap and water, especially after changing diapers and using the toilet, avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people with hand, foot, and mouth disease. Like other viral diseases it usually cures without any significant complications.

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Dr. M. M. Haque

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