HFMD in babies: "As long as we don’t get into bad situations, we won’t remember to be careful. After this incident, I will be more cautious."
Living in Singapore, we know that HFMD is a highly contagious disease, and we make sure that our children stay away from other infected kids.
We are even careful about washing and disinfecting our kids’ hands after they have been to common areas like playgrounds and used shared items like toys.
But no matter how hard we try, is there something that we usually neglect? This mum’s warning makes us think twice, especially when it comes to HFMD in babies.
HFMD in babies: Mum’s warning
Malaysian mum Amrina Meena recently shared her experience on Facebook, and it is something to take note of.
Apparently, mummy Amrina had taken her son Airil to a restaurant for dinner, but he ended up falling sick with HFMD the very next day. What was the reason?
Amrina writes, “I suspect the baby chair is the reason why Airil got HFMD. Because he got a fever the next day.”
“It was my mistake that I didn’t bring baby wipes with me that night. The chair did not look dirty so I didn’t wipe it.”
“Well, as long as we don’t get into bad situations, we won’t remember to be careful.”
“After this incident, I will be more cautious. I will wipe before sitting down. I don’t care what people say, I just want to make sure that my child is healthy.”
(At this point of time, we would like to add that we are merely reporting this mum’s experience and opinion, and there’s no surefire way of knowing what the exact cause of the baby’s illness was…)
Amrina also advises other parents, “Try to avoid going to play area during HFMD season. Quarantine is a must. We need to stay at home.”
“Try to go to the clinic to get doctor’s confirmation whether your child has HFMD. Don’t send him to school, or go out to restaurants, playground, supermarkets, and shopping malls.”
“HFMD spreads via touch.”
“For other parents, make sure you have antibacterial wipes/spray or Dettol antiseptic and sanitiser on standby at all times. Take it with you anywhere you go.”
“But, if it happens, it happens. Accept it and quarantine your child till he has fully recovered.”
Thankfully, Airil has recovered quite well now, says Amrina, “At the time I’m sharing this post, my baby is already healthy. I put virgin coconut oil and let him take some of it. It was a speedy recovery.”
Thank you, Amrina for sharing your experience. We hope little Airil is back to his normal, cheerful self.
HFMD in babies: Signs, symptoms and precautions
The first signs of HFMD usually involve:
- Reduced appetite
- Sore throat
- Feeling of being unwell
These symptoms are then followed by:
- Painful ulcers in the mouth, throat and tongue
- Rash or small blisters on the palms of hands, soles of feet or buttocks
- Bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea
However, these symptoms may not apply for everyone. Some people may show no symptoms at all, but it is still possible to pass on the virus to others.
It is important to remember that HFMD is a viral infection, so there is no specific treatment, apart from intake of fluids and controlling the fever. Children usually recover within a week’s time.
Parents, here is what you need to remember:
- Encourage fluid intake: The blisters in the mouth make eating and swallowing painful for the child, and kill his appetite. So it’s all the more important that the child takes as much oral fluids as possible, to prevent dehydration.
Offer small amounts of fluid (about 10 – 30 ml each time) like diluted juices, rice or barley water every half hourly throughout the day.
- To numb pain from the mouth and throat, give cold treats such as ice cream, popsicles, sherbet, shakes, especially to children who find it difficult to swallow. The child can also suck on ice chips.
- Keep the areas with blisters clean. Wash them using lukewarm water and soap. Pat them dry gently with a towel.
- Keep the child hydrated by offering cold water or milk. Do not offer acidic drinks such as soda and fruit juices.
- Offer the child soft food that does not require much chewing such as porridge and soup. Avoid giving spicy and salty food that can make the sores sting.
- Bring your child to the Children’s Emergency if you notice:
1. That the oral intake of fluids is poor, or the child is unable to swallow, or vomits persistently.
2. The tongue is dry, or when the child has decreased urine output (dehydration).
3. If the child appears lethargic, drowsy or irritable, is crying persistently, or is disorientated.
4. When seizures occur.
5. If there is difficulty in breathing.
6. If the child looks ashen, pale or blue.
7. If the child complains of acute headache or giddiness, or if there is neck stiffness.
- Stay away from school: HFMD is easily spread through direct contact with nose discharge, saliva, faeces and fluid from the blisters.
Hence, the infected child should not be allowed to go to school, childcare centres and other crowded places, until he has fully recovered and for at least 1 week after the start of the illness.
- Practise good general hygiene: Wash your hands immediately after contact with the infected child or handling diaper changes, and before handling food.
The virus can continue to be shed in stools for up to 12 weeks in an infected child so practice good hand hygiene when changing diapers for the infected child.
Prevent other children in the house from contact with toys, books, eating utensils, towels, clothes and other personal items used by the infected child.
- Pregnant women who get HFMD may experience miscarriage, stillbirth or even severe disease in the newborn.
Pregnant women should practise good hand hygiene by washing their hands after each contact with the infected child, and preferably wear a surgical mask when in close contact with the child.