An infection caused by a virus causes hand, foot, and mouth disease and primarily affects children. The symptoms include rashes on the hands and feet and painful blisters around the mouth and nose. Extreme cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) might need medical attention. However, the condition generally heals without treatment.

It is often mistaken for foot-and-mouth disease, affecting livestock, not humans. The most frequent cases of HFMD are in children under ten years old; however, it may be a problem for older children and adults.



The signs begin to appear within 2 to 6 days of having contracted the disease for the first time. This is called the incubation period. If symptoms start to show, either you or your child could be experiencing:

  • sore throat
  • less appetite
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Red blisters that hurt in your mouth
  • malaise (feeling unwell)
  • an itch of red on your hands as well as the toes
  • I'm drooling

A sore throat and fever are typically the first signs of HFMD. The typical rashes and blisters are seen later, within a couple of days after the fever starts.

The rash typically appears as small red patches. These spots are sometimes challenging to detect on skin with darker tones, and therefore it is simpler to examine the palms of your hands and the feet's bottom in areas where the problem may be more apparent.

Lesions may appear on the surfaces of your hands as well as feet. However, this is rare when an itch on your soles or palms can occur, which is why it's simple to recognize.

Most children suffering from HFMD may also experience painful sores on their mouths. Make sure to check their tongue, including the sides and the throat.


The viruses that belong to the enterovirus family or Coxsackievirus cause hand, foot, and mouth disease.

  • Touching an affected individual's stool (poop) and the subsequent contact with your eyes, mouth, or nose.
  • Airborne droplets are released when an affected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Hugging or kissing anyone infected.
  • Contact directly with a person's blisters that are infected.
  • Touching surfaces, toys, doors, knobs, or other objects before touching the nose, eyes, or mouth.
  • Distinguishing eating utensils, cups, towels, or even clothing.



Children under ten years old are the most susceptible to developing HFMD, especially children under five. The immune system might not yet be able to produce the antibodies needed to fight off the disease, especially in young children.

Children who spend much time with other children have an increased chance of getting infected, such as children who go to school or childcare centers.

Children in the early years have the most excellent chance of developing HFMD. The risk increases when they go to school or daycare because viruses can be spread quickly in these environments.

Children generally develop an immunity to the illness after exposure to the virus that causes it, which is why the disease seldom affects those over ten years old.

But it's still possible for older kids and adults to contract the virus, particularly if they've compromised immune systems.


A doctor can usually diagnose HFMD by performing a physical exam. The doctor may check for blisters or sores on the hands, feet, and genitals, and they can also look for other signs that commonly are present alongside the sores.

Doctors might look for related antigens or viral substances in the blood or gather stool and throat samples to be examined. There is no cure for HFMD, and there is no treatment specific to HFMD.

Pain medicines can help relieve fever and pain for some individuals. A numbing spray or mouthwash can aid in reducing pain in the mouth, and this helps increase the amount of fluid and food consumed.

Soft foods, like soup, can reduce the pain of eating. Avoid spicy or hot foods. If mouth ulcers are too painful, drinking cold fluids and sucking on frozen cubes could aid in relieving discomfort. A few patients may require visits to an institution if complications arise.

Home Remedies for HFMD

Specific home remedies can help alleviate HFMD symptoms. Try these methods at home to alleviate the discomfort of blisters:

  • Drinking cold drinks
  • eating the ice cream or sherbet
  • drinking ice chips or drinking popsicles
  • Avoiding spicy or salty food
  • restricting citrus fruits, fruits drinks as well as soda

Swishing warm salt water inside your mouth can aid in relieving the pain that comes from mouth ulcers and throat sores. It is possible to perform this multiple times per every day or as frequently as is needed.


There is no vaccine available to stop HFMD. It is spread through contact between people, and hygiene is a way to reduce the risk of contracting it.

Strategies to reduce the chance of contracting an infection are:

  • not sharing drinking cups
  • often wash hands using warm water and soap
  • disinfecting surfaces

However, staying out of contact with other people isn't usually feasible. Good hygiene practices are the most effective defense against HFMD; regular hand washing can drastically lower the risk of contracting this disease.

Teaching your children to clean their hands using soap and hot water is possible. Cleaning your hands after you use the bathroom before eating and when you are out in public is essential.

Children should also avoid putting their hands or objects within or near their mouths. It's essential to disinfect common areas within your home frequently. Start by cleaning surfaces shared with water and soap, followed by a diluted mixture of water and bleach.

It is also recommended to wash pacifiers, toys, and other objects that the virus might contaminate.

Avoid going to school or work when you and your kid develop symptoms like an illness that causes fever or sore throat. It's recommended to avoid contact with others after the eruptions of rashes and blisters begin, and this will help to avoid spreading the illness to other people.


The doctor will ask questions about the child's symptoms and examine any rashes or sores. It's usually enough to determine whether it's a hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

Your doctor is likely to be able to differentiate hand-foot-and-mouth disease from other viral infections by taking a look at:

  • A rash can be seen on the skin or sores
  • The pattern of symptoms and signs
  • The age of the person affected

The doctor can collect a throat swab or stool sample and then send it to the lab to identify the virus that caused the disease. If the diagnosis is not sure.


However, most people can recover without issues. HFMD is not a life-threatening illness and disappears without treatment in one or two weeks.

 It is believed that the incidence is growing across Western Pacific countries, including Japan and Singapore. Enterovirus typically is the cause of more frequent outbreaks.

You or your child should feel fully recovered within 7-10 days of the onset of the first symptoms. Recurring the infection is rare, and the body generally builds a defense against the virus that causes illness.

Consult a doctor immediately when symptoms become more severe or do not improve within ten days.   

Also Read: How does air pollution affect children’s health?

with Dr. Sameer Punia


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