Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) is a contagious condition that occurs due to a virus. Multiple viruses can cause this disease, but the signs are typically the same:
- Mouth sores
- An itchy rash on the hands, feet, or both
A person can get HFMD by being in close contact with an individual who has it. They can also catch it when they touch something, such as a doorknob or toy, contaminated with a virus that causes the disease.
Many people are worried that they can catch HFMD from a pet or another animal. However, this is not possible as animals cannot get HFMD.
Certain animals get a different disease known as foot-and-mouth disease (also called hoof-and-mouth disease). The foot-and-mouth disease only occurs in animals that have hooves, such as pigs, sheep, and cows. It is not possible for people to contract it.
HFMD tends to be mild in the US. It typically:
- Occurs in children below the age of five years
- Resolves on its own in 7 to 10 days without leaving any trace
After HFMD clears, the individual who had it develops immunity to the virus that leads to the disease. As various viruses can cause HFMD, certain people get it again from a different virus.
In the US, a majority of individuals catch HFMD during the spring, summer, or fall, which is when the viruses that cause it are most likely to proliferate. This disease tends to occur in the tropics all year round.
Suncoast Skin Solutions, led by board certified dermatologist Dr. Christopher Ewanowski, provides advanced dermatology treatments to patients in Tampa, Brandon, Lutz, Seminole, Riverview, Brooksville, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, Largo, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Sarasota, Palm Harbor, Central Florida, Florida, and surrounding locations.
How long is a person with HFMD contagious?
Individuals who get HFMD tend to be most contagious during the initial week that they have the virus.
In order to prevent the spread of the virus to others, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends keeping a child with HFMD home until the:
- Sores heal
- Fever stops
The CDC recommends this as children usually have close contact with each other. This can spread the virus.
Recommendations for Preventing the Spread of HFMD
There is presently no vaccine available for hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD), which can potentially lower a person’s risk of getting it.
A majority of people catch the infection when someone in their home has HFMD. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), when someone in a household has HFMD or a person travels to a region of the world where HFMD outbreaks are common, such as parts of Asia:
A person should wash their hands with soap and water often. Washing the hands is particularly important in the following circumstances:
- After changing diapers or potty training
- After using the toilet
- Prior to eating
- Prior to preparing food
It is also important to avoid close contact with anyone who has HFMD. This disease usually spreads when an infected individual sneezes or coughs. Until it is certain that the infected person cannot spread the virus to others, it is advisable not to get too close, if possible.
While a majority of people are not contagious after 7 to 10 days, it can take longer. As the virus can spread with close contact, it also helps to avoid hugging, kissing, and sharing food with the infected individual.
Disinfecting counters, doorknobs, and other surfaces that people often touch is also a good idea. The virus that leads to HFMD can spread from one individual to another upon touching an infected surface.
Dr. Ewanowski’s skin care clinic receives patients from Tampa, Brandon, Lutz, Seminole, Riverview, Brooksville, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, Largo, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Sarasota, Palm Harbor, Central Florida, Florida, and nearby areas for dermatologic as well as medical spa procedures.
SunCoast Skin Solutions Dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Petersburg / Pinellas County, Brandon, Lutz (2 locations), Winter Haven, Largo, Riverview, Brooksville, Ocala, Largo at Bardmoor, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, and Palm Harbor, Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376 or click here.