Not too far west of Fairfax County, home of Clifton Foot & Ankle Center, there’s recently been a rapid spread of a disease that can affect your feet. It’s called hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) and it crops up every year during the late spring and summer months all over the world.

What to know

The first and most important thing you need to know about this disease is this:

                  It’s not serious.

Whew! Glad we got that out of the way because parents do worry. HFMD affects people of all ages, but mostly children under the age of five. It’s a viral infection that you catch in the same way you might catch the common cold. So, it’s spread through saliva, mucous, sneezing, coughing, and touching infected surfaces.

Symptoms are easy to spot:

Fever and sore throat: look for these symptoms about three to six days after being exposed to the virus.

Rash: hand, foot, and mouth disease causes a painful rash on your feet and on your hands – typically on your soles and palms. The rash sometimes appears on the buttocks as well. It’s generally not itchy, but it does hurt – a lot!

Ulcers: along with the tell-tale rash, it’s very common to have blisters, sores, and ulcers in the throat, mouth and on the tongue. Painful blisters can also appear on the hands and feet.

Malaise: you just feel lousy!

What to do about it

Minimize the discomfort with the over-the-counter pain relievers acetaminophen or ibuprofen (always follow a doctor’s advice when giving these medicines to children). Sore and blistered throats can be soothed with cool liquids and popsicles. Dehydration is a danger, so make sure to get enough liquids.

If symptoms don’t improve in 7-10 days, the usual course of the disease, see a doctor. It’s important to know that a rash on the feet may or may not be HFMD. Other causes include psoriasis, a skin allergyathlete’s foot or other infection. Any concerns about your or your child’s feet are expertly treated by Dr. Kenneth R. Wilhelm, at our podiatry office in Centreville, VA. Click here to make an appointment or call us at (703) 996-3000.

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