Hand Mouth Feet Disease: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments


  • 1 What is mouth hand and foot disease
  • 2 How hand-mouth-foot disease is transmitted
  • 3 What causes hand-mouth-foot disease
  • 4 How long does the incubation of the disease hands mouth feet last?
  • 5 What are the symptoms of hands mouth feet disease
  • 6 Hands, mouth, feet: how long it lasts
  • 7 How to cure hand-mouth-foot disease
  • 8 How to avoid getting hands, mouth and feet disease
  • 9 Mouth hands feet pregnancy 

Malaise, fever, blisters popping up here and there on the face, arms or soles of the feet. It's not measles, it's not chicken pox, it's not rubella or scarlet fever. It is the so-called hand-mouth-foot disease, a pathology that falls within the group of exanthematous ones, rather frequent, but not particularly serious, even if annoying. Let's see what it is and what to do in case you get sick.

What is mouth hand and foot disease

Hand Mouth Feet disease is caused by a virus and is highly contagious. It mainly affects children under the age of 10 and spreads easily in communities, for example at school, especially in kindergarten: contact between children, the use of the same games and, in the case of children who go at the nest, the habit of putting everything in the mouth can be vehicles for the transmission of the virus. Adults are not "exempt" from this pathology and can be affected. There is also the possibility of hand and foot mouth in infants.

How is hand-mouth-foot disease transmitted?

The infection occurs by air (therefore with coughing or sneezing) or through surfaces contaminated by saliva, nasal secretions, fluids or feces of the infected person. This is why school is one of the places where it is easier to get sick from hands, mouth, feet: an improperly cleaned surface or close contact between children is enough. Parents can also be infected if their children have mouth, hand and foot disease.

What causes hand-mouth-foot disease

The viruses responsible for this disease belong to the category of Enteroviruses and there are several. The ones that most often cause hands-mouth-feet are Coxsackie A16 and Enterovirus 71. These are viruses that circulate in our country all year round, but in particular between winter and spring.

How long does the incubation of the disease hands mouth feet last?

The virus incubation time is approximately 3-7 days.

What are the symptoms of hands mouth feet disease

After the incubation time, the disease manifests itself with these symptoms (some may not even be there): 

  • fever: generally, if there is, it is quite light, but it may not present itself; 
  • rash: consists of small watery bubbles that appear on the palms of the hands, on the soles of the feet, inside the mouth (hence the name of the disease) or in the diaper area (groin and bottom); 
  • sore throat or stomach, diarrhea, headache: even these symptoms are not always there. 

Hands, mouth, feet: how long it lasts

The blisters do not itch as much (unlike, for example, those of chickenpox) and disappear in 7-10 days without leaving scars. The very annoying ones instead are those that appear inside the mouth: the bubbles break causing small ulcers. The pain makes it difficult to drink and eat and the baby can therefore be very inappetent. Hand-mouth-foot disease passes on its own in about a week or ten days. 

How to treat hands mouth feet disease

There is no specific therapy, just as there is no vaccine that can prevent it. Treatment then aims to reduce symptoms. Under the advice of the pediatrician, paracetamol can be taken for fever, while for blisters inside the mouth there are analgesic sprays, mouthwashes and gels that should relieve pain.

It is very important to hydrate the child who, due to ulcers in the mouth, eats little: try to make him drink in small sips, offering water or sugary drinks (however, avoid those based on citrus fruits that accentuate the burning sensation). One idea could be to make him eat popsicles or ice cream, which refresh the mouth and, at the same time, give nourishment. 

How to avoid getting hands mouth feet disease

To prevent the spread of the virus in the family, try to wash your baby's hands often and clean the surfaces where he has played or where you change his diaper. Obviously, avoid kissing on the mouth and using the same dishes (plates, glasses, etc.) or the same towels. 

Mouth hands feet pregnancy 

Pregnant women must try to avoid contagion. For example, it would be advisable for some other family member to take care of the sick child, but if this is not possible, the mother must follow all the main rules of hygiene (for example, wash your hands thoroughly after changing the diaper). 

In case of a child affected by the hands-mouth-feet, the gynecologist must be warned who will propose to perform ultrasound scans more often to keep the situation under control. The cause-and-effect mechanism on the fetus is not yet fully known, but it is fair to know that serious consequences (such as miscarriage or malformations) are quite rare. 

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