It’s official, I finally understand why my mom used to make me wash my hands before and after eating, after cleaning, playing and everything else under the sun.
It’s called Coxsackievirus A16, also known as Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). More common among kids, and known to be highly contagious, HFMD can remain in your body for weeks even after the symptoms are gone. Let me start off with this note, yes it is as awful as it sounds. Coming up on a full two weeks now, I have been slowly recovering from HFMD. You may hear about it in the news every once in awhile, but it is a virus that attacks the body inducing cold/flu like symptoms along with a sore throat similar to strep and small red blisters that form a rash. HFMD is commonly mistaken in households as strep throat since not everyone gets every symptom. Mine was a full blown case!
I won’t go into most of the details, but the most distinctive characteristic of HFMD is the red rash that forms along an individual’s hands, feet, mouth or other areas of the body. I’ve included a mild picture of what my hand looked like mid way just to give you a glimpse. So why does this matter?
A) Like most men, the reaction we get from anything, even a cold, essentially sends us to our death bed.
B) HFMD can be prevented by keeping your hands washed and preventing the spread of germs.
When should you be washing your hands?
Before, during and after preparing food
Before eating food
Before and after caring for someone who is sick
Before and after treating a cut or wound
After using the toilet
After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
After handling pet food or treats
After touching garbage
You get the point.
How should you wash your hands?
Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm is best), turn off the tap and apply soap
Lather your hands by rubbing them together with soap. Be sure to lather the back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails
Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song twice
Rinse your hands well under clean, running water
Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them
I know washing your hands can seem like a typical, everyday task that doesn’t need a whole blog post to reference it, but trust me, this is worth the mention to help prevent anyone else from being infected with this common and pesky virus.