Hand, foot and mouth disease
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common infection that mostly affects children under 10.
Hand, foot and mouth disease usually clears up by itself, within about a week.
Check if you have hand, foot and mouth disease
The first sign of hand, foot and mouth disease can be:
- a sore throat
- a fever, typically 38-39C
- loss of appetite
It may be a few days before the ulcers and rash appear.
If you’re unsure it’s hand, foot and mouth disease, look at other childhood rashes
Things you can do at home to ease the symptoms
- drink fluids to avoid dehydration (avoid acidic drinks, like fruit juice)
- eat soft foods like soup
- take paracetamol or ibuprofen can help ease a sore throat and bring down a temperature
Mouth ulcer gels, sprays, and mouthwashes, might ease the blisters
When you buy medicines, always check they are suitable for children and give the correct dose.
When to see your GP
Speak to your GP if:
- your child isn’t better after a week
- your child is dehydrated – they’re not weeing as often as usual
- you’re concerned about your child’s symptoms
- you’re pregnant and develop hand, foot and mouth disease
Hand, foot and mouth disease spreads easily
It’s best to avoid close contact with anyone with hand, foot and mouth disease.
Individual schools and nurseries may have their own guidance for when your child can return so it’s best to check with them.
Generally, keep them away from school or nursery while they are feeling unwell. There’s no need to keep them off until the blisters have healed.
Hand, foot and mouth disease in pregnancy
There’s normally no risk to the pregnancy or baby.
However, it’s best to avoid close contact with anyone who has hand, foot and mouth disease.
There’s limited evidence that in very rare cases catching hand, foot and mouth disease during the first three months of pregnancy could lead to miscarriage – due to the fever. However, this risk is very low.