Hand, foot and mouth disease-everything you need to know - Providence Medical

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a viral infection that causes a rash or blisters on the hands and feet, as well as in or around the mouth.

Who can be affected?

HFMD mainly affects children under the age of 10 but can also affect adolescents. It spreads easily from one person to another. It is possible to contract the virus more than once, but the symptoms will be less severe.

NB: HFMD is not related to the foot and mouth disease that is found in animals.

Signs and symptoms:

Symptoms usually start three to seven days after becoming infected and can last from seven to 10 days.

If your child has HFMD, they may feel:

  • tired
  • have a fever
  • have a rash
  • sore mouth and throat
  • loss of appetite

What does the rash look like?

Depending on what virus your child has will determine the rashes appearance:

  • Small, oval, white blisters on the palms, soles of the feet, as well as in the mouth.


  • A red skin rash with a brown scale on it. The rash appears on the outer arms, hands, legs, feet, around the mouth and upper buttocks. The trunk is usually relatively clear. Sometimes there are blisters present, but they are not usually in the mouth and your child can eat and drink as usual.

Is it itchy?

The blisters should not be itchy like chickenpox blisters. If your child has eczema, the HFMD can cause the eczema to worsen and potentially become infected with bacteria.

How is HFMD spread?

HFMD is most commonly caused by the coxsackie virus. The main way HFMD spreads is through contact with the fluid from inside the blisters, or with the droplets spread from sneezing and coughing. The virus can also be present in bowel movements (poo) for up to several weeks after the person has recovered.

How to prevent HFMD from spreading?

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after touching your child’s bodily fluids. This includes touching their blisters, helping them blow their nose, and changing nappies or helping with toileting.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t share items such as cutlery, drinking cups, towels, toothbrushes and clothing.
  • Keep your child home from school, kindergarten or child care until all the fluid in their blisters has dried.

HFMD is a viral infection that rarely causes further complications. Antibiotics do not work on viruses and are not given to children with HFMD.

HFMD will get better on its own but if your child is unwell with a fever and a skin rash (small bright red spots or purple spots or unexplained bruises) that does not turn to skin-colour (blanch) when you press on it, this may be a sign of meningococcal infection so please visit your doctor.

For a fresh approach to your healthcare please visit Providence Medical & Dental, Belmont.
Shop 3-6, Belmont Central Shopping Centre, 1 Singleton St, Belmont NSW 2290
Phone: 02 4989 1300
Fax: 02 4989 1333