Known as a hand-foot-and-mouth disease, it is a viral infection that is part of the exanthematous disease, and affects children under 10 years of age, although it may also occur in adolescents and, in a mild form, in adults. Caused by some viruses of the Enterovirus group – explains Dr. Paola Marangione, Head of the Neonatology and Neonatal Pathology Unit of Humanitas San Pio X -, the infection can be contracted by air with coughing and sneezing, or by direct contact with surfaces contaminated by nasal secretions, fluids, saliva or feces of an infected person, or by kissing an infected person.
It occurs 3-7 days after infection, with blisters itching slightly on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet and mouth, but sometimes also in the area of the diaper, which disappear in a week. The vesicles, on the contrary, are painful and spread in the oral cavity, tongue and tonsils, and can cause difficulties in ingesting food and liquids; this, in the newborns and in the young children, can have as complication inappetence and dehydration.
In kindergartens, sometimes small epidemics develop due to the fact that the virus can remain in the stool for up to a month after infection. Since there is no vaccine, infection can be avoided by frequently washing children’s hands with soap and water, avoiding the sharing of objects, glasses and utensils that the child could put in the mouth. Once diagnosed, thanks to a visit to the paediatrician or your family doctor, the therapy is symptomatic. In any case, it is recommended to check that the child drinks adequately, especially mouth refreshing liquids, that oral hygiene is not neglected and, only if recommended by the doctor, anesthetic sprays or mouthwashes can be used to alleviate the pain in the mouth. In 7-10 days the vesicles disappear: it is therefore necessary to wait for the disease to develop.