Most Common Hand-foot and mouth disease in children

Hand-foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a mild but contagious viral infection common in infants and children younger than five. 

In this blog, we will discuss causes, symptoms, ways of prevention, risk factors, and all other aspects of HFMD. Keep reading!

Causes of HFMD

Coxsackievirus 16 is the most common cause of hand-foot-and-mouth disease. It is a disease caused by a group of viruses called a nonpolio enterovirus. The mouth is the most common medium for viruses entering the patient’s body. 

This disease is highly contagious and spreads through contact with an infected person. Such as

  • Nose secretion
  • Throat discharge
  • Saliva
  • Stool

Respiratory droplets sprayed into the air while sneezing or coughing

HFMD is common in infants as they need frequent diaper changes. Also, they put their hands in their mouths frequently. Your child is a most contagious stage in the first week of infection, but the virus can even remain in the body even after the symptoms go away,


  • Flu-like symptoms

Children who come in contact with the virus may develop fever or flu-like conditions within three to five days. Such symptoms include

Sore throat


Loss of appetite

Feeling unwell

  • Mouth sores

Your children can get mouth sores which usually start as small red spots. It often occurs on the tongue or inside the mouth and can be painful in most cases.

These ulcers can make swallowing food painful for your child if you notice the following signs.

Not eating or drinking adequately

Drooling more than usual

Only comfortable to drink cold fluids

  • Skin rash

On getting infected, your child may get a skin rash on the palms and soles of the feet. It may also occur on the buttocks, legs, and arms. Blisters can have a fluid-containing virus, so keeping them clean and avoiding touching them is advisable. 

Other symptoms include:


Runny nose

Tenderness or pain in palms or feet

Home Treatment and Prevention

  • Wash hands many times a day thoroughly

Practice washing the hands of your child for at least 20 seconds. Also, wash your hands well after changing a diaper or using the toilet. Wash your hands while preparing food or eating. You may also use alcohol-based sanitizer when soap or water is not available.

  • Disinfect common areas

The virus can live for days on the surfaces like door knobs or toys. Try to disinfect them regularly with a solution of chlorine bleach. Follow a strict schedule to disinfect commonly used characters.

  • Avoid close contact with children.

As hand-foot-mouth disease is highly contagious. Keep your child away from other children until the symptoms like fever and mouth ulcers disappear entirely.

To make your child feel better, the following practices may help:

  • Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen to children older than six months. This can help with headaches, fever, and sore throat.
  • Avoid giving such medicines to children younger than six months. 
  • Avoid giving products containing aspirin. Aspirin can be fatal as it is linked to Reye’s syndrome.
  • If your child is over one year old, give them plenty of fluids like water, mild, apple juice, etc. Avoid giving citrus juices as they may irritate the mouth ulcers. For children under one year, continue to provide breastmilk, formula, or even both. 
  • Offer your child soft food that is easy to swallow, such as mashed potatoes, boiled eggs, oatmeal, etc. 


There is no specific treatment or vaccine for the disease, but one can lower the spread of infection by taking precautionary steps. 

  • Make sure your child does not touch the rash.
  • Avoid them putting fingers or toys in their mouth or rub eyes
  • Teach them to sneeze or cough into a tissue
  • Do not let them share meals, drinking cups, eating utensils, napkins, or personal usage items with anyone. 

Seek doctor advice

It is advisable to seek doctors’ advice immediately if

  • Your child is not drinking usually, and you are worried that they might get dehydrated
  • Fever lasts longer than three days.
  • Symptoms continue to persist for more than ten days
  • Have poor immunity to disease
  • Symptoms are severe
  • Your child is younger than six months
  • Neck pain or chest pain
  • Swelling and redness around sores
  • Trouble in swelling
  • Not able to focus or feeling too much fatigue

Symptoms of dehydration occur such as:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • “Soft spot” of infant pilling in
  • Very dark urine          
  • No urination in 6 to 8 hours for older children and no wet diaper for 4 to 6 hours for toddlers.

Risk factors and concerns

Age is the leading risk factor for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. This disease significantly affects children younger than 5 to 7 years.

Usually, older children or adults build antibodies after exposure to the virus and are not much affected by the disease.

Expertise and gentle pediatric healthcare

If your child shows any hand-foot and mouth disease symptoms, book an appointment and consult with expert pediatricians at Sun Pediatrics

We at Sun Pediatrics strive to provide the best healthcare facilities to your children. Our doctors treat your child the way they treat their children. You can rely on us for your child’s best and most gentle healthcare.

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