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Understanding Why Your Child Keeps Getting Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a common viral illness that primarily affects infants and children under the age of 5. Characterized by a rash on the hands, feet, and in the mouth, along with fever and general discomfort, HFMD can be a recurring issue for some children, leaving parents concerned and seeking answers.


child with hfmd

Several factors contribute to why some children seem more susceptible to HFMD:


Immature Immune System

Children, especially infants and toddlers, have developing immune systems that are not yet fully equipped to combat viruses effectively. As a result, they are more vulnerable to infections like HFMD.


Exposure to the Virus

HFMD is highly contagious and spreads through close contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, such as saliva, mucus, or feces. In settings like daycare centers, preschools, kindergartens or playgroups where children interact closely, the virus can easily transmit from one child to another.


Reinfection and Multiple Strains

There are multiple strains of the viruses that cause HFMD, primarily Enterovirus 71 (EV71) and Coxsackievirus A16 (CVA16). Being infected with one strain does not provide immunity against the others. Therefore, a child who has had HFMD caused by one strain can still contract the disease from exposure to a different strain.


Environmental Factors

Certain environmental factors, such as poor hygiene practices, crowded living conditions, interaction in close proximity and lack of sanitation, can increase the risk of HFMD transmission. Children who frequently put their hands or objects in their mouths are also more likely to contract the virus.


Duration of Shedding the Virus

Infected individuals, especially children, can continue to shed the virus in their stool for weeks after symptoms have resolved, even though they may appear healthy. This prolonged shedding period increases the likelihood of spreading the virus to others, including other children and adults in close proximity.


To help prevent recurrent cases of HFMD in your child, you can consider the following preventive measures:


  • Frequent Handwashing: Encourage your child to wash their hands regularly with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and before meals.

  • Avoiding Close Contact: Limit exposure to individuals who are known to have HFMD, and encourage your child to avoid sharing utensils, toys, and other personal items with others.


  • Cleaning and Disinfecting: Regularly clean and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces and toys, particularly in shared spaces like daycare centers and play areas.


  • Promoting Hygienic Practices: Teach your child to cover their mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and to dispose of tissues properly.


  • Monitoring Symptoms: Stay vigilant for any signs or symptoms of HFMD in your child, and seek medical attention promptly if they develop.


hfmd symptoms

While HFMD can be distressing for both children and parents, understanding the factors contributing to its recurrence and implementing preventive measures can help reduce the risk and severity of future infections. By promoting good hygiene practices and minimizing exposure to the virus, you can help safeguard your child's health and well-being.