Location: St.Albans - Hatfield Road
7th October 2016

Health Visitor Blog

Hand foot and mouth.

 

Hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common infection caused by a group of viruses. It tends to manifest itself as flat discoloured spots or bumps that may blister on the hands, feet or in the mouth. It may also cause mouth ulcers that may make it uncomfortable to swallow. HFMD often starts with a fever and is most common in children under 10 years old. Symptoms usually appear within 3-6 days following exposure to the virus and clear within 7-10 days (NHS Choices 2016).

How is HFMD spread?

HFMD is spread mainly through close personal contact. It is airborne so therefore it can be spread through coughing and sneezing. It is also present in the faeces of the infected person.

Treatment of HFMD

There is no specific treatment of straight forward HFMD and so really it is about easing the symptoms. Below are some ways that the symptoms can be eased (NHS Choices 2016):

  • Drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
  • Eat soft foods such as mashed potatoes, yogurts and soups if swallowing is uncomfortable.
  • Give pain relief such as paracetamol or Ibuprofen.
  • You may be able to use a mouth gel but follow the manufacturers  guidelines as often these are not suitable for young children.
  • Keep young children away from nursery or school until they are feeling better.

 

Prevention of the spread of HFMD

  • Handwashing is a key preventative measure ! Wash your hands with soap and water
  • Staying off work or nursery until you are better.
  • Using tissues to cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water often.
  • Avoid sharing utensils, cups, towels and clothes.
  • Disinfect surfaces or objects that can be contaminated.
  • Wash any bedding or clothing that could have become contaminated

 

The vast majority of cases of HFMD clear up by 7-10 days but in very rare cases, the virus can affect the heart, lungs or brain causing inflammation which can be fatal in some cases. These serious complications are thankfully very rare but if you are concerned, contact your GP or local hospital.