Hand, Foot & Mouth

How to prevent and treat hand, foot and mouth disease.

Busting the myths around hand, foot and mouth disease.
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a short, mild illness, caused by a highly contagious virus. It’s easily dealt with by your immune system – most fully recover within a week – and serious complications rarely occur. HFMD spreads when individuals come into direct contact with the infectious viruses that cause this disease. These viruses are found in nose and throat secretions (saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus), blister fluid and stools of infected individuals. The viruses may spread when healthy individuals touch surfaces or objects that have been touched by infected persons. 

Hand, foot and mouth symptoms: 

  • Fever and general malaise
  • Red spots on hands and feet
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Mouth ulcers

Hand, foot and mouth prevention 

Medical practices

HFMD is very contagious, so ensure that you clean and disinfect common areas and surfaces in your home, including your child’s toys and dummies (pacifiers). 

No sharing!

If someone in your family does catch the disease, avoid touching them if possible – and don’t share towels, cutlery or drinks.

Hygiene and habits

Great hand-hygiene!
There’s no vaccine to protect you and your loved ones from HFMD – so you have to take matters into your own hands by washing them even more than usual. Handwashing with soap or using hand sanitizer – especially after using the bathroom or changing your child’s nappy, or before eating – will improve hand hygiene and help stop the virus from spreading to others. 

Hand, foot and mouth treatment:

Hang in there

As a general rule, you do not need to visit your doctor when you or your child has hand, foot and mouth disease. This is because cases only tend to last a week. However, you should seek medical advice if symptoms persist for longer than seven days.

Stay hydrated

Dehydration can have serious consequences, so it is vital that you remember to drink sterilized water (that you have boiled or bought in a bottle). You can also ask your pharmacist about oral rehydration solutions.

Manage the symptoms

While they cannot cure the disease itself, many common over-the-counter treatments may help you to feel better. Painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can alleviate pain. You can also buy mouth ulcer remedies so that it is less painful to eat and drink.

HFMD mythbusters

Hand, foot and mouth disease is the same disease as foot and mouth, which affects cattle, pigs and sheep.

It’s easy to understand the confusion – but the diseases are unrelated. And you can’t catch HFMD from animals. 

I’ve had HFMD — so I can’t contract it again.

It’s true that you will be immune to that particular strain of the virus – but there are others that produce the same symptoms and you will still be vulnerable to those.  

Medical source: British health authority


  • http://www.cdc.gov/features/handfootmouthdisease/
  • http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hand-foot-and-mouth-disease/Pages/new_Symptoms.aspx
  • http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/prevention-treatment.html
  • http://www.wpro.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs_10072012_HFMD/en/index.html

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