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Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (Children)

What is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
​Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a viral infection characterised by ulcers in the mouth and rashes on the hands and feet. The ulcers may be painful.

HFMD affects primarily infants and young children although adults may also be at risk.
Causes of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

​HFMD is caused by an enterovirus which is moderately contagious, especially during the first week of illness. The virus can spread directly from person to person via saliva, stool and respiratory droplets. It can also spread indirectly via items contaminated with the secretions.

Signs and Symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

These symptoms usually appear within 3 to 6 days of infection:

  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Painful mouth ulcers on the tongue, gums, inside of the cheeks or back of the throat
  • Rash on the hands and feet - most commonly found on the palms and soles
Very rarely, complications affecting the heart or brain may occur.
Diagnosis and Treatment Options for Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

​HFMD in children usually resolves itself within 7 to 10 days. Your doctor may recommend certain medications to relieve the symptoms.

Tips for Taking Care of Children with Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

What should I do if my child has HFMD?

  • Encourage oral fluid intake.
  • Pain relief medications such as topical oral anaesthetic gels or painkillers like paracetamol for the mouth ulcers may help to improve oral intake.
  • Treating high fever with antipyretics may help your child to feel more comfortable.
  • Bring your child to see a doctor for further management if he or she has the following symptoms:
    • Prolonged fever
    • Rapid heartbeat
    • Rapid breathing
    • Does not eat or drink well
    • Vomiting with dehydration
    • Lethargy and irritability
    • Drowsiness
    • Headache

How do I prevent the spreading of HFMD?

  • Children with HFMD should stay away from school for 1 week after the rash appears.
  • Proper hygiene such as hand washing should be practised.
  • Surfaces and articles such as toys and towels contaminated by the droplets, saliva or stool of children with HFMD should be properly disinfected with a diluted solution of chlorine-containing bleach.
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