Hand, Foot and Mouth

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Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common infection that causes mouth ulcers and spots on the hands and feet. It’s most common in young children – particularly those under 10 – but can affect older children and adults as well. Hand, foot and mouth disease can be unpleasant, but it will usually clear up by itself within 7 to 10 days. You can normally look after yourself or your child at home. The infection is not related to foot and mouth disease, which affects cattle, sheep and pigs.

The symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease usually develop between three and five days after being exposed to the infection.

The first symptoms may include:

  • a high temperature (fever), usually around 38-39C (100.4-102.2F)
  • a general sense of feeling unwell
  • loss of appetite
  • coughing
  • abdominal (tummy) pain
  • a sore throat or mouth

 

Mouth Ulcers

After one or two days, red spots appear on the tongue and inside the mouth.

Spots & Blisters

Soon after the mouth ulcers appear, you’ll probably notice a rash made up of small, raised red spots on the skin.

If you have hand, foot and mouth disease, the best thing to do is to stay at home until you’re feeling better. There’s no cure for it, so you have to let it run its course.

You should keep your child away from nursery or school until they’re feeling better. Adults with the condition should stay away from work until they’re feeling better.

When to get medical advice

You don’t usually need medical attention if you think you or your child has hand, foot and mouth disease. The infection will usually pass in 7 to 10 days, and there isn’t much your doctor can do.

You should also get medical advice if:

  • your child is unable or unwilling to drink any fluids
  • your child has signs of dehydration, such as unresponsiveness, passing small amounts of urine or no urine at all, or cold hands and feet
  • your child develops fits (seizures), confusion, weakness or a loss of consciousness
  • your child is under three months old and has a temperature of 38C (101F) or above, or is between three and six months old and has a temperature of 39C (102F) or above
  • the skin becomes very painful, red, swollen and hot, or there’s a discharge of pus
  • the symptoms are getting worse or haven’t improved after 7 to 10 days

 

Exclusion period from nursery should be in place until any symptoms have subsided.