Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

A common viral infection that causes small blisters in the mouth and blisters on the hands and feet

  • More common in children under the age of 10
  • Gender, genetics, and lifestyle are not significant factors

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common childhood infection that occurs in epidemics during the summer and early autumn. The infection is caused by the coxsackie virus and lasts a few days.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms develop 3–5 days after infection and may include:

  • Blisters inside the mouth that may develop into painful ulcers.

  • Blisters on the hands and feet that typically develop 1–2 days after those in the mouth and disappear spontaneously after 3–4 days.

  • Fever.

Children often seem well but may not want to eat if mouth ulcers develop.

Hand, foot, and mouth disease

The small blisters on this child’s hand are characteristic of the viral infection hand, foot, and mouth disease.

What might be done?

There is no specific treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease, but self-help measures should relieve the symptoms. You should make sure that your child drinks plenty of fluid, such as chilled milk. However, fruit juices should be avoided because they are acidic and can aggravate mouth ulcers. Liquid paracetamol (see Painkillers) will help in bringing down a fever and reduce discomfort. If your child is reluctant to drink, watch for signs of dehydration, such as abnormal drowsiness, and consult your child’s doctor immediately if you become concerned.

You should also consult a doctor if your child has severe symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth infection. Your child’s doctor may prescribe a medicated mouthwash to soothe the ulcers and prevent bacterial infection. Blisters clear up in a few days, but ulcers can persist for up to 1 week.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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