By Amanda Godsey, FNP-C
Amanda Godsey is a Nurse Practitioner in our Northwest Primary Care Clinic. Nursing has been Amanda's passion now for 18 years. She loves caring for people and helping them be able to achieve their maximum health benefits throughout their lifetime. You can reach Amanda at Northwest Primary Care Clinic, 200 Carraway Drive, Suite B2, Winfield, AL 35594 or call 205-487-7556.
Summertime is when more rashes occur than at any other time throughout the year. People contract poison oak, poison ivy, sumac rashes, scabies, and even eczema may become more prevalent during the summertime as well. There is one rash that is encountered more often this time of the year. It is not transmitted by plants or animals but is transmitted by people. It is viral in nature and is known as hand-foot-mouth disease, or HFMD. Although this rash can occur any time of the year, it is more prevelant during the warmer months. We have already noted this rash in our clinic this summer.
HFMD usually affects children less than 5 years old but adults also may get this disease as well. It usually begins with fever, decreased appetite, sore throat, and fatigue. One to two days after the fever begins, a painful rash can develop in the mouth, palms of the hands, and soles of the feet. The rash normally looks like flat red spots but can develop blisters that may rupture and drain. Not everyone will experience all the above symptoms. Some patients may only have one or two of them. The rash can spread to the entire body, as well, but usually presents to the hands, feet, and mouth in the beginning.
HFMD is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus group, which include, polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and other enteroviruses. Transmission can occur through nose and throat secretions such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucous. It can also spread by contact with the fluid from the blisters that form from the rash. Contact with feces while changing an infant's diaper can be a method of transmission as well. Close personal contact from hugging, breathing in droplets in the air from someone that coughs or sneezes around you and touching contaminated objects, like doorknobs, can cause the infection to spread. Persons who are infected should stay at home until they have no more fever and the rash has cleared to avoid spreading the rash to others.
There is currently no vaccine available to prevent this disease. You can lower the risks of contamination by good hand washing with soap and water and by disinfecting surfaces that a child has touched, such as toys, table tops, etc. Avoiding close contact with an infected person, such as hugging, kissing, or sharing utensils, can lessen your risks of infection too.
Treatment consists of staying hydrated, controlling pain and fever, and using sprays or ointments that can be purchased over the counter to help with mouth pain. If a person cannot eat or drink well, they may become dehydrated and will need IV fluids in extreme cases.
Complications with HFMD, although rare, can result in septic meningitis or encephalitis. These illnesses are considered medical emergencies and the person should seek medical attention right away. Symptoms of drowsiness, altered mental state, light sensitivity, or back and/or neck stiffness are signs of these complications. In rare cases, HFMD has been known to cause loss of fingernails and toenails.
It is best when a person develops a rash to follow up with a healthcare provider to determine the cause of the rash and its severity.
Resource: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.