Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a highly contagious virus, and the number of cases is on the rise. Since winter is the peak season for viral infections, now is a good time to educate yourself about HFMD so you can protect yourself and your family from the illness.
As part of our comprehensive pediatric care services, the board-certified providers at Wasatch Peak Family Practice in Layton, Utah, offer specialized treatment for children struggling with viral infections — including HFMD.
Keep reading to learn more about why HFMD cases surge in the winter and what you can do if you suspect you or your child has this highly contagious infection.
Why winter brings an uptick in HFMD cases
Everyone knows that winter brings more cases of viral infections, like the cold and flu, with the peak months occurring between December and February. But why is there a surge of viral illnesses, including HFMD, at this time of year?
Medical science tells us that a number of factors are at play, all leading to an uptick in HFMD cases, including:
- Spending more time inside, breathing the same air as people who may be infected
- Shorter, darker days mean less vitamin D, which helps boost immunity
- Less humidity, which means drier air, making it easier for viruses to stay airborne longer
In addition, recent research has found that colder temperatures have a negative effect on our immune systems. Tiny projections in our upper respiratory tracts, called cilia, move particles out of your nose. But when temperatures drop, these cilia don’t work as well.
As a result, a virus that enters your upper respiratory tract stays there longer, making it easier for it to take hold and make you sick.
And since HFMD is more likely to take hold when your immune system is affected by other viruses, like COVID-19, influenza, and the common cold, it’s no surprise that there’s a surge in cases of HFMD during the winter months.
Recognizing the signs of HFMD
Knowing the signs of HFMD can help stop the spread of this highly contagious virus. If you recognize any of the following, keep your child home and call your pediatrician at Wasatch Peak Family Practice for advice:
- A sudden fever followed by fatigue
- Blisters and sores on the palms, soles, and around the mouth
- A sore throat, especially combined with the above symptoms
- Crankiness and loss of appetite, especially if you see sores around the mouth
In very young children who can’t verbalize their symptoms, you might notice they are drooling or salivating more than usual or refuse to nurse or take a bottle.
How we help you manage HFMD
If you’re concerned about HFMD, don’t wait to talk to a provider at Wasatch Peak Family Practice. Our providers offer personalized recommendations for symptom management, and you can rest easier knowing most children and adults with HFMD recover on their own with rest, fluids, and fever management.
Sometimes, HFMD requires immediate medical care. Call our team or head to urgent care if you have an infant (under 6 months) with HFMD symptoms or:
- Worsening, rather than improving, symptoms
- Symptoms that last longer than 10 days
- Your child has a compromised immune system and develops HFMD
Learn more about dealing with HFMD this winter by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone with a pediatrician at Wasatch Peak Family Practice in Layton, Utah.