By Aarti Kapur Singh
Hand foot and mouth disease is as easy to handle as it is misunderstood. Find out some helpful child health nursing tips to remember for hand foot and mouth disease
Did you know about these child health nursing tips to treat Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFM)? It is a viral infection that causes really painful red boils or blisters in the oral cavity (mouth and throat), on the limbs (hands and feet) and sometimes also extends to the diaper area. Besides the blisters, other symptoms are a fever for a few days, dehydration (because swallowing liquids is painful) and general irritability. While HFM does not have a cure (or a preventive vaccine), the symptoms clear up in a week and children recover completely. Because the disease is caused by a virus, antibiotics will not work to treat it. At best you can give pain relief medication for mouth blisters.
HFM is a contagious condition and easily spreads through touch – unwashed hands, feces, saliva (spit or drool), mucus from the nose, or fluid from the blisters. HFM usually affects children under 5 years of age because of their vulnerability to infections at day care centers, pre-schools, parks, and other places where they are in close contact with other children.
There are some nursing tips to make your child more comfortable during recovery:
1. You can comfort the area affected by applying cold compresses:
Cold foods (ice cream, smoothies, and popsicles) help by numbing the mouth and throat. Cold milk is great too. Avoid hot drinks, sodas, and acidic food (citrus juice, tomato sauce, etc.) because they can make the pain worse.
2. Treat blisters with lukewarm water and mild soap:
For blisters on hands and feet, wash the skin with lukewarm water and mild soap and pat dry with a muslin cloth. Keep it clean, dry and uncovered. If a blister bursts, apply a little antibiotic to help prevent infection and cover it lightly with a cloth bandage.
5. Make the child rinse his or her mouth frequently with warm water after meals:
If the child is comfortable, just a tiny pinch of rock salt can be dissolved in this warm water. In fact, this can be done several times a day as it will help reduce the pain and inflammation of mouth and throat sores caused by hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
Preventing the spread of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease:
- To prevent the spread of HFM, keep kids home from school and childcare while they have a fever or open blisters on the skin and in the mouth.
- Your child should stay home from school, crèche, playgroup, kindergarten or childcare until all the fluid in the blisters has dried.
- Hand washing is the best protection. Remind everyone in your family to wash their hands well and often, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper, and before preparing or eating food.
- Shared toys in childcare centers should be cleaned often with a disinfectant because many viruses can live on objects for a few days.
- Call your doctor if your child remains very irritable, can’t be comforted, is sluggish, or seems to be getting worse. Also call if you see signs of dehydration, like a dry or sticky mouth, sunken eyes, or decreased urine output.
Disclaimer: Consult your child’s doctor irrespective. Hand Foot and Mouth disease is highly contagious.
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