What is hand, foot and mouth disease?

It is an infection caused by the virus called Coxsackie. It mostly affects young children; however, it can occur at any age. Outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease most commonly occur during the summer season.

What are the symptoms?

This condition is usually not a severe illness. It can cause the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Small, painful ulcers in the mouth
  • A skin rash that looks like red spots, usually with small blisters on top that appear on the hands (palms) and feet (soles), buttocks and sometimes other places on the body
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lack of energy
  • Vomiting and/or diarrhoea

How does hand, foot and mouth disease spread?

It is most contagious during the first week of illness. It spreads from an infected person to others from:

  • Close contact, e.g., hugging or sharing cups and through utensils
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Contact with stools
  • Contact with blister fluid
  • Touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them

What can you do?

  • This condition doesn’t have any treatment. Antibiotics don’t work to resolve this infection faster. It can last for 7 to 10 days.
  • Keep your child comfortable and give them plenty of food and liquids.
  • If they have sores in their mouth, give them cold, bland liquids such as milk or water. Avoid giving fruit juice as it can cause irritation.
  • Your doctor will provide a pain killer for pain relief.
  • Ensure that everyone in your house washes their hands with soap and water after blowing their nose (or a child’s nose) and using the toilet and before preparing and eating food.
  • Avoid popping the blisters; they will heal on their own.
  • This disease is most contagious in the early stage; however, the virus can be transmitted from blisters and secretions (such as saliva, sputum or nasal mucus). Children should stay at home and should not be sent to school and child care if they have symptoms.
  • Wash toys and surfaces in your home regularly.


  1. Hand, foot and mouth disease[Internet]. Available at: https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/hand_foot_and_mouth_disease. Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.
  2. Hand, foot and mouth disease[Internet]. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/features/handfootmouthdisease/index.html. Accessed on Mar 5, 2020.