News of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) has made new entrance into the medical news. There has been heightened awareness surrounding the virus, its symptoms, and its causes.

Some of HFMD’s symptoms like a fever and sore throat or difficulty swallowing might make you think it’s a case of strep throat, a cold or the flu. However, HFMD is also accompanied by painful mouth sores, and flat red spots or blisters on several areas of the body, including hands, legs, feet, elbows and even the genital area. If you’re beginning to view little red spots popping up in these areas or experiencing throat and mouth pain, it’s typically a sign of HFMD.

As such there is no specific treatment for HFMD. But there are ways to help improve your symptoms. An oral anesthetic could relieve pain as a result of mouth sores, and over-the-counter pain relievers can improve general discomfort. HFMD is easily preventable with good hygiene and awareness of susceptible environments. You can use these four tactics to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly, especially before preparing a meal, after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper.
  • Clean and disinfect toys, counters, and other objects/surfaces regularly. Keep yourself and others protected by utilizing disinfectant to clean often-used objects and surfaces.
  • Try to avoid touching your face if you have not washed your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with those who are infected with HFMD.