Paediatrics (children's doctor)

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Introduction to Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a syndrome, or a collection of symptoms, which most often presents itself in children though is sometimes found in older people.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a syndrome, or a collection of symptoms, which most often presents itself in children though is sometimes found in older people. In most cases the illness resolves itself without medical intervention though symptomatic relief may be appropriate.

What causes Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?

HFMD is caused by a viral infection caused by a number of potential viruses that are normally associated with intestinal infections.

What are the symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?

The most noticeable symptoms of HFMD include mouth ulcers formed of small, red spots. As the disease progresses these ulcers can then develop into larger, yellow spots which may become progressively more irritating. The other key symptom of HFMD are rashes that usually develop on the extremities, in particular the hands and feet though may also be found on more central parts of the body.

There are also a number of symptoms associated with infections in general such as fever, general malaise, cough, stomach pains, loss of appetite and fatigue.

How is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease treated?

HFMD usually doesn’t require treatment and the symptoms resolve themselves within 7-10 days as with many infections. However there are a number of potential complications for which further medical intervention may be required: Mouth ulcers rarely but sometimes become sufficiently painful that you have difficulty eating and swallowing and the skin may become hot and painful. Additionally, if the person suffering with HFMD is a child under three months and develops a significant temperature (38oC and above) you should seek medical attention.

HFMD, though not dangerous, is highly infections and it is important to stay at home as much as possible in order to allow the illness to run its course. The virus spreads through fluids in coughs and sneezes and from the contents of blisters. It is therefore also highly recommended that they aren’t scratched and irritated further.

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