Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by a virus called Coxsackie, after the New York town where it was first detected. It is a short-lived disease that will fortunately not leave your babies long-term effects. It was named as such because it comes with lesions that look like blisters found on the hands, feet, and mouth.
The biggest signs of hand, foot and mouth disease in babies are the lesions. Babies infected by the virus also show reduced appetite, a cranky attitude or even a sore throat and fever. The disease usually starts showing in the mouth.
Doctors usually diagnose the disease in babies based on the symptoms. In cases where the signs might be unclear, a cell sample from the baby’s throat may be sent to the lab to examine whether the Coxsackie virus is present. In some cases, stool samples are tested.
The hand, foot and mouth disease in babies usually come from viruses taking the oral-fecal route. It does not necessarily mean that your kids have eaten their poop; it is just that when diapers leak, hands touch them and they don’t get properly washed, the virus can spread easily. It can also spread through nasal secretions or saliva, which is why the condition can easily take out a day care.
According to Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s Medical Center director, Jeffrey Kahn, M.D., the hand, foot and mouth disease puts children under age five at the most risk.
So far, there is no set treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease. You just need to wait it out until your baby is fine. Kids might not want to eat at all, but it is important to give them soft foods or fluids that will be easier for them to swallow. Acetaminophen might also help.
The best thing that you can do to prevent hand, foot and mouth disease in babies is to maintain good hygiene. Make sure their day care center is implementing some strict rules on sanitation. Wash your child’s hands before every snack or meal. You, or any babysitter, should also wash your hands properly after changing diapers. Toys should undergo proper disinfection before giving them back to the kids to play with.
Tips for Moms
In mild cases of hand, foot and mouth disease in babies, you don’t have to worry that much. Just keep your baby hydrated and fed.
But in bad cases of this illness, your baby will likely feel miserable. Aside from giving them liquids, make sure to soothe them for relief.
When preparing your baby’s solid foods, don’t include anything spicy, salty, or acidic because these will irritate their mouth more. Go with soft foods instead.
You might want to give them ice pops, ice cream, and cold drinks, as well as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, if the doctor prescribes it.
Give your baby temporary relief by dabbing a swab of a liquid children’s antihistamine and liquid antacid mixture. Apply the mixture to the linings of your baby’s mouth with a cotton swab.
Your baby might suffer from hand, foot and mouth disease again because of the many viral strains that could infect them. However, you can take the recommended precautionary measures by maintaining your baby’s hygiene and yours.