Hand, Foot & Mouth Is A Pain—Here’s What You Need To Know

Who doesn’t love a good comeback story? At least when we’re talking about a close football game or your favorite animal-print styles, but not when it comes to a seriously uncomfortable illness. But that’s exactly what we’re seeing with all of the recent Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD) outbreaks. And if you thought a poison ivy rash, eczema, even chickenpox were bad—then HFMD will definitely knock your socks off.

Now this isn’t to downplay the itchy, uncomfortable and downright annoying symptoms that some of these common conditions cause, but the symptoms of HFMD put it in a category all its own. So besides being rightfully wary of HFMD, what else do you need to know? Most importantly, how can you prevent it?

Here are the 9 facts everyone—regardless of age—should know about HFMD:

1.    You should take its name literally. Unlike many other conditions, namely chicken pox, which causes an all-over red rash, HFMD is strictly limited to the hands, feet, mouth/throat (ouch!) and sometimes the elbows and knees. Experts are still investigating why it doesn’t affect the entire body.

2.    It doesn’t just cause a few red spots, though. While the red rash that appears on the hands and feet may not seem too severe, don’t let the looks of it deceive you. Unlike chicken pox, the red spots that HFMD causes are actually extremely painful—not itchy—and often evolve into blisters.

3.    The worst symptoms are the ones you don’t see. Most of us don’t frequently look in the back of our mouths, but if you did while experiencing HFMD, you would see painful sores called herpangina. These sores can make eating and drinking really difficult.

4.    The early-onset symptoms are super vague. Fever, lack of appetite and a sore throat…sounds a lot like the common cold or the flu. So how can you tell the difference? When it comes to HFMD, the fever will likely be above 101 F, and the painful sores usually develop a few days after these initial symptoms.

5.    It isn’t a condition that’s limited to kids. While it’s true that HFMD is most common in children under 5 years old, adults can get the virus, too. Oftentimes, it’s harder to spot in adults because the virus may not progress the same way. So adults may assume it’s just a bad cold and not have any idea they’re actually spreading the HFMD virus.

6.    Speaking of spreading the virus, it’s extremely contagious.This condition often gets a bad rap as being a disease that’s caused by a lack of hygiene, but that isn’t the case. This isn’t to say that washing your hands frequently is a bad idea, but HFMD is especially spreadable—thanks to the secretions of blisters and mouth sores. Even if you don’t touch the blisters or sores, you can become infected by touching contaminated objects, like doorknobs, toilets, toys and more. Routine hygiene practices + frequent cleaning + handwashing + more handwashing = prevention.

7.    And you’re most likely to get it right now. If the cold and flu viruses are more common during the colder months, you’d think this virus would follow suit. However, HFMD is actually the most common during the summer months into the early fall (just in time for back-to-school).

8.    It can cause a few weird, but totally normal side effects. Just when you thought you were done reading through all of the uncomfortable symptoms, the list continues. Not to worry you, but in some cases HFMD may cause you to lose your fingernails and/or toenails, and it may spread to your genitals. But the main thing to focus on here is that these are all temporary symptoms.

9.    And treating the condition can be complicated. Because HFMD is a virus, it’s difficult for experts to treat the condition directly. However, they can effectively treat the symptomswhich if we’re being honest, is the worst part of this disease.
If you believe that you or your little one may be fighting off a case of HFMD, let the experts at GMG Primary Care help. With compassionate, knowledgeable providers, you’ll receive thorough care to tackle all of your tough symptoms. Not feeling well over the weekend or afterhours? Not to worry, ChoiceOne Urgent Care offers convenient care options seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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