Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease can be mild or a very serious illness. It is caused by a virus.

Anyone can get hand, foot and mouth disease, but it is most common in children under 10.

Preschool children tend to get sicker.

If your child has hand, foot and mouth disease, they'll have painful sores in their mouth and a rash with blisters on their hands and feet.

Human hand, foot and mouth disease is not related to foot and mouth disease in animals. Hand, foot and mouth disease appears most often in warm weather - usually i the summer or early autumn.

What to do if you're pregnant

Hand, foot and mouth disease is rare in healthy adults, so the risk of infection during pregnancy is very low. And if a pregnant woman gets the disease, the risk of complications is also very low.

However, if you catch the virus shortly before you give birth, the infection can be passed on to your baby. Most babies born with hand, foot and mouth disease have only mild symptoms.

In very rare cases it is possible that catching hand, foot and mouth disease during pregnancy may result in miscarriage or could affect your baby's development. For this reason, if you have contact with hand, foot and mouth disease while you're pregnant, or if you develop any kind of rash, see your doctor or lead maternity carer - just to be safe.

Symptoms

Mild fever is usually the first sign of hand, foot and mouth disease. This starts 3-5 days after your child has been exposed to the disease.

After the fever starts, your child may develop other symptoms including:

  • painful red blisters on their tongue, mouth, palms of their hands, or soles of their feet
  • loss of appetite
  • a sore throat and mouth
  • a general feeling of weakness or tiredness

The disease is usually mild and lasts 3-7 days.

It can be confused with:

  • chickenpox (but the chickenpox rash is all over the body)
  • cold sores in a child's mouth

Treatment

The only medicine recommended for hand, foot and mouth disease is paracetamol.

Most blisters disappear without causing problems. In the mouth, however, some may form shallow, painful sores that look similar to cold sores. If your child's mouth is sore, don't give them sour, salt or spicy foods.

Make sure they drink plenty of liquids to avoid getting dehydrated.

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