Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Treatment

Hand foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious, but mostly harmless, infectious disease of the skin that primarily affects children under the age of ten. Triggers are viruses. The name Hand foot and mouth disease is derived from the symptoms: it causes blisters on the palms and on the soles of the feet, in addition to inflammation (aphthae) in the mouth.

The Hand foot and mouth disease is usually harmless and heals without consequences within seven to ten days. Nevertheless, she is highly contagious .

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Treatment

About one to two weeks after becoming infected with Hand foot and mouth disease, the first symptoms appear. However, this period can also be significantly shorter (a few days) or longer (several weeks). In older children and adults, the Hand foot and mouth disease often proceeds without discomfort or in mild form.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Treatment

Hand foot mouth disease: infection symptoms & duration

Hand, foot and mouth disease? The name sounds like it was invented, but it clearly describes where the symptoms mainly occur: on the hands, feet and in the mouth. Here is all about the disease, how to recognize it, how contagious it is and how long it lasts.

What kind of illness is this?

The hand  foot and mouth disease (also known as hand-mouth-foot disease) is a viral disease that runs generally harmless. The name derives from the symptoms: bubbles form mainly on the palms and soles of the feet and painful small ulcers (aphthae) in the mouth. Especially children under the age of ten and people with weakened immune systems become infected with the viruses of the enteroviruses (pathogens of the gastrointestinal tract).

Since a whole group of viruses can trigger the disease, the hand-foot-oral disease does not always go the same way. And: a once-through infection does not leave any immunity, because next time you can get infected with another type of virus from the group. Incidentally, Hand foot and mouth disease occurs in all seasons but is particularly prevalent in late summer and autumn.

How does the infection happen?

Like many viral diseases, Hand foot and mouth disease is spread from child to child, especially through smear infection, as the body fluids such as sweat, saliva, and the secretions of the blisters are highly infectious. However, the viruses can also be transmitted via shared toilets, door handles or toys, for example. Also very common is the droplet infection, ie transmission by sneezing or coughing.

Treacherous: Already two to three days before the first symptoms appear, the person concerned is contagious to his environment .And: The Robert Koch Institute in Berlin emphasizes that sufferers remain contagious until all symptoms have subsided – at least. It has been proven that those affected can excrete the virus for weeks through the stool.

How can you protect yourself from infection?

vaccine does not exist unfortunately. And even the advice to stay away from sick, brings no security. For one thing, some people are contagious without showing any symptoms. On the other hand, the virus is also spread through shared items. Therefore, it is important for children and parents to know and follow the rules for proper hand washing . What parents can do to protect themselves against infections is in our article ” Do not get sick, mamma! ”

What are the typical symptoms of Hand foot and mouth disease?

The first symptoms usually appear one to two weeks after the infection: fever, sore throat, body aches, nausea and loss of appetite. One or two days later, painful red spots develop in the oral cavity, which after a short time turn into small blisters. As a rule, the tongue, gums and oral mucosa are affected, but the blisters can also occur around the mouth. A short time later, a rash develops on palms and soles. However, it can also occur on the butt, genital area, knees or elbows.

Usually, the rash does not itch in the beginning – itching or pain in the blisters. The fluid in the vesicles is so contagious that the sufferers redistribute the rash with their own hands on their own bodies. If a child scratches the bubbles on their feet and then touches their knees, the next bubbles may sprout there. Therefore, it is important that even the patients themselves often and thoroughly wash their hands and only use their own towels.

What to do if the child does not like to eat because of the painful areas in the mouth?

Maybe it would like something to drink, such as slightly sweetened tea? This is also good if the child still has a fever. Soft foods such as pudding, porridge , crushed banana and milk ice are better to eat at this stage .

How long is the average duration?

The Hand foot and mouth disease usually heals without consequences after one week to ten days. Because of the risk of infection, sick children should not visit the kindergarten or the school until all symptoms have subsided. Notifiable, the disease is not.

Is Hand foot and mouth disease more severe in adults?

No. Unlike chickenpox , for example , the disease often occurs in older children and adults without a fever and so easily that they do not even notice the infection and, of course, do not consult a doctor. Nevertheless, they can pass on the virus. Anyone who suspects that they have been infected should pay particular attention to the hygiene rules (see above) and stay away from pregnant women and newborn babies as far as possible.

Is Hand foot and mouth disease dangerous in pregnancy?

Luckily not. As with other adults, the disease is usually very mild in pregnant women or even without any symptoms. However, if a woman falls ill at the end of the pregnancyor in the first days after childbirth, the baby can catch the baby. In most newborns, the course is also usually mild. But of course you do not want to expect a baby to start a life illness. In rare cases, the infection in a baby in the first weeks of life can also spread to organs. Therefore, it is important to turn on the doctor already with such a suspicion.

Is the disease caused by the same pathogens as foot-and-mouth disease in animals?

No. This assumption is widespread, but the two diseases are caused by different pathogens and have nothing to do with each other.

What is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease?

The term hand foot and mouth disease refers to an acute, very contagious viral disease that primarily affects children under the age of ten. In infected persons, red spots and fluid filled blisters in the mouth (aphthous ulcers) develop, as well as reddish nodules and spots, especially on the palms and soles of the feet . In Europe, Hand foot and mouth disease rarely affects adults!

In Asia (eg China, Malaysia, Japan, Taiwan) there are always major outbreaks (epidemics), which sometimes cause thousands to hundreds of thousands of people with Hand foot and mouth disease. In these cases enterovirus 71 is often behind the disease.

Researchers are currently developing a vaccine that could target an important agent of Hand foot and mouth disease, Enterovirus 71, in the Western Pacific.

Hand foot and mouth disease: the typical symptoms

Hand mouth and foot disease usually shows typical symptoms. After the incubation period of about one to two weeks, the first symptoms are general symptoms :

  • fever
  • anorexia
  • nausea
  • Sore throat
  • body aches
  • a headache
  • Conjunctivitis

One to two days after the onset of fever, the typical skin changes are added. Which includes:

  • red spots, fluid filled blisters and small, painful ulcers (so-called aphthae ) on the tongue, soft palate and gums , at the beginning partly on the nose and around the mouth
  • reddish, itchy nodules on the palms and soles , patches and blisters surrounded by a red border
  • less common  skin lesions on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area

Only a small proportion of infections with hand foot and mouth disease causes these symptoms: in over 80 percent of those affected, the disease progresses  without symptoms (asymptomatic) or only with some of the symptoms.

The symptoms typical of Hand foot and mouth disease usually affect small children more than adults. Complications are generally very rare – the disease almost always heals without consequences.

Hand foot and mouth disease in pregnancy

During one Pregnancy most enterovirus infections cause only mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. Due to limited information, it is not clear what impact a hand-foot-oral disease might have on the course of pregnancy. However, if the illness occurs around thebirth date, pregnant women can transmit the virus to the newborn.

The disease is mild in most newborns. In rare cases, however, the infection may spread to other organs such as the liver and heart and possibly lead to the death of the child. The risk of this serious disease is highest in the first two weeks of life.

Contagion and frequency

How long is the hand foot and mouth disease contagious?

Just two to three days before the Hand foot and mouth disease begins, the person is contagious to others This also applies as long as the symptoms persist: the person remains infectious during this period. Affected individuals excrete the virus through the stool for up to several weeks, so patients can be contagious for a long time .


Since there is  no obligation to report  hand foot and mouth disease in US , it is not possible to give any reliable information on the frequency of Hand foot and mouth disease. However, if the cases are more frequent in childcare facilities, such as nursery schools, they must be reported to the Public Health Department so that it can take appropriate protective measures. A general recommendation is that you should leave your child at home, there is  not . This decision has to be made by the pediatrician on a case-by-case basis.

What helps? Heal without specific therapy

Hand foot and mouth disease usually does not require treatment in adults: if any signs of infection occur, they will fade away after a few days without treatment. The Hand foot and mouth disease heals without consequences. In addition, so far no therapy is available that would be effective against the causative viruses.

In some cases, those affected want to tackle the symptoms actively : The itching can be relieved with medication and the fever by appropriate agents such asLoweracetaminophen. If the inflammation in the mouth ( aphthous ) hurt, help tinctures that are dabbed or with which one rinses the mouth. Herbal remedies containing, for example, chamomile , lemon balm or thyme are also suitable .

In rare cases, more extensive inflammation develops in the mouth. Then the use ofAntibiotics may be useful if bacteria are involved in the inflammation. Antibiotics do not help against viruses.

If suspected, a doctor should assess whether it is indeed hand mouth and foot disease or if another illness is behind the symptoms.

Cause: Triggers are viruses

Hand foot and mouth disease causes viruses. Different pathogens are possible causes. They all belong to the so-called human (human) enteroviruses. Enteroviruses are distributed worldwide and lead to infection, especially in the summer months and in autumn. Enteroviruses occur only in humans and colonize the  intestine .

Enteroviruses are relatively environmentally resistant, so resistant. For example, they survive contact with stomach acid (after ingestion). However, they are sensitive to dryness and moderate heating at temperatures of about 50 degrees Celsius. Scientists classify human enteroviruses (HEV) into groups A to D based on specific characteristics.

Hand foot and mouth disease is most commonly caused by one of the following viruses in Group A of Enteroviruses:

  • Coxsackieviruses Group A: A2-8, A10, A14, A14 and A16
  • Coxsackievirus Group B: B2 and B5
  • Enterovirus 71 and others
  • so-called ECHO viruses

Background to enteroviruses:

They belong to the family Picornaviren. Picornaviruses are the smallest known viruses that contain RNA as a genetic material (ribonucleic acid). Picornaviruses have a diameter of about 20 to 30 nanometers (1 nanometer equals one millionth of a millimeter).

routes of infection

For Hand foot and mouth disease, different infection routes are possible as causes:

  • over faeces (fecal-oral transmission)
  • about droplet infection ( coughing and sneezing)
  • About smear infection (especially if the patient suffers from conjunctivitis )

The content of the blisters on the hands, feet and mouth during the illness is infectious. Close contact with other people and lack of hygiene promote that the infection spreads – usually on the hands.

incubation period

In the case of Hand foot and mouth disease, the incubation period (ie the time between the infection and the onset of the first symptoms) is 7 to 14 days on average (2 to 35 days are possible).

Diagnosis: clear symptoms

The Hand foot and mouth disease leads to quite characteristic symptoms , by means of which a doctor can make the diagnosis comparatively easy.

In rare cases, it is necessary to confirm the suspicion of Hand foot and mouth disease. Suitable body samples are, for example, stool, cerebrospinal fluid ( CSF ), pharyngeal wash water and smears of the conjunctiva of the eye .

The following procedures are possible:

  • Detection of genetic material of the virus by the so-called polymerase chain reaction (PCR = polymerase chain reaction )
  • Create a culture and culture of the viruses

Not suitable is the antibody detection .

In addition to Hand foot and mouth disease, other diseases can lead to mouth sores that cause similar symptoms. These include:

  • “Mouth rot” ( stomatitis aphthosa )
  • severe tonsillitis (angina lacunaris)
  • Fungal infection of the mucous membrane ( thrush )
  • Pygmy glandular fever (mononucleosis infectiosa)
  • herpes infection
  • Hand Foot-and-mouth disease (an animal disease that rarely affects humans but is unrelated to Hand foot and mouth disease)

Course: In most cases without complications

Often, an infection with the Hand foot and mouth disease or with the viruses that cause them, not noticeable. If it comes to a visible infection, the Hand foot and mouth disease in most cases shows a harmless course. Complications are very rare.

Anyone who has once suffered from Hand foot and mouth disease, retains a relatively permanent protection (immunity) for the triggering virus species .


Possible complications mostly affect younger children. These very rare complications include:

  • Heart muscle inflammation (myocarditis) with symptoms such as cardiac pain , cardiac arrhythmias
  • Pneumonia (pneumonia) with symptoms such as chills , cough , high fever
  • Meningitis (meningitis) with symptoms such as headache , neck stiffness, photophobia
  • Loss of fingernails and toenails (usually within the first four weeks after infection)

Hand foot and mouth disease Prevention through hygiene

The Hand foot and mouth disease usually progresses without complications and stops by itself. Since the symptoms that appear in the course can be very uncomfortable and disturbing, it is recommended to  prevent Hand foot and mouth disease as much as possible.

Through consistent hygiene measures  , you can prevent the spread of the virus infection.

Hygiene Tips:

  1. Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (for at least 30 seconds!), Especially in these situations:
    • after using the toilet (or your child’s)
    • before, during and after you prepare food and
    • after nasal cleaning, coughing or sneezing.
  2. Avoid close contact with sufferers (kissing, hugging, cutlery and sharing cups)!
  3. When traveling in risk areas, pay attention to special hygiene:
    • Cook your drinking water!
    • Avoid crowds (droplet infection)!
    • Heat foods!
    • Peel your fruit!
Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Treatment
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