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Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Prevention

If someone in your child's classroom has been diagnosed with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease, let us help you with the do's and don'ts so you can keep it out of your household!

Hearing that someone in your circle (likely, your child’s classmate in school or daycare) has hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD or HFM) can make you feel a little squirmy. Often, the gut reaction is to think of it as a “gross” illness to catch, but fear not - it’s a viral infection, just like most other things our cuties pick up at school.

While HFM usually isn’t serious, it is very contagious and spreads rapidly at schools and daycares. While it’s most common among kids 5 years old and under, anyone is susceptible to catching HFM. Let’s figure out how to avoid it, shall we?

How does it spread?

Like a lot of other viral infections, HFM is spread via saliva, mucus or feces. The thing that makes HFM different from other viral infections is that HFM causes blisters on the hands, feet and mouth of the infected person, and the fluid from those blisters is also contagious. Pretty difficult to contain the hands of a 3 year old, as you know. 

How to avoid it

Since we can’t control our wiley young ones, let’s do what we can to control our own behaviors. Hopefully HFM was caught quickly at your child’s school and their sick schoolmate has been staying home, but since HFM is most contagious during the first week of infection, let’s pretend your kiddo brought the bug home and control its spread within your house.

  • Wash your hands and wash your kiddo’s hands, frequently and in between ALL activities. This is especially important after using the restroom or changing their diaper, and after coughing or sneezing. (Luckily, this isn’t a respiratory illness but coughing and sneezing are inevitable, so be ready to dodge the spray.)
  • Do a disinfectant rundown. Clean all the usual suspects (counters, door handles, light switches) but also pay special attention to anything in your child’s backpack that may have been shared or touched at school. Toys, markers, lunch boxes, etc.
  • Minimize the hugging and kissing over this first week. Simply be aware that your kiddo could’ve picked up HFM and isn’t showing symptoms yet. 

Things to watch for in your own kiddo in case they were exposed

A fever typically develops 3-6 days after exposure, so take frequent temperatures during this timeframe and double down on the prevention behaviors above. Blisters usually develop 1-2 days after the fever begins.

If you’ve been unlucky and are starting to suspect that you or your child have caught HFM, click here to read a care guide about HFM so you know what to expect and how to soothe the symptoms. 😊