Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease: Symptoms, Causes, And Treatment

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious viral disease that mainly affects children. In most cases, it runs its course without complications. Nevertheless, you should not take the disease lightly. We explain how you can tell if your child has the disease and what treatment options are available.

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a viral infection that mostly affects children and people with immune deficiencies. It is passed on through body fluids and handshaking, among other ways. Typical symptoms are blisters on the hands, feet, and mouth, which are very painful. It usually heals on its own after two weeks at the latest, but complications can also occur in rare cases. Read here everything important about symptoms, cause, treatment, and possible complications.

How Is Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease Transmitted?

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is caused by different viruses and is found everywhere. It can be transmitted through body fluids such as nasal and throat secretions or saliva. By coughing and sneezing, for example, sick people can transmit the pathogen to others, so that one then speaks of droplet infection.

Other sources of infection are objects and surfaces to which droplets can adhere. A healthy person can be infected, for example, by a door handle or other contaminated objects to which droplets are attached.

However, pathogens can also be passed on through passed on through the stool of a sick person, for example when changing diapers.

Symptoms Of Hand-Foot Disease

The first signs of illness are usually fever, sore throat, poor performance, aching limbs, and decreased appetite. After one to two days, red spots form on the oral mucosa. Especially on the tongue and gums. Painful blisters eventually form from these spots. They may also appear around the mouth.

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Again, one to two days later, spots appear on the hands and soles of the feet, but they can also affect the buttocks, genital area, knees, and elbows. They vary in shape and size and do not initially cause itching. However, once blisters form, they may also itch.

In some children with the disease after four to eight weeks, the blisters after the disease has subsided, the fingernails and toenails peel off.

However, many sufferers have no symptoms at all. Symptoms occur in only about 20 percent of cases. The means that in four out of five infected persons no symptoms are noticeable. This is mostly the case in children over ten years of age and adults. Nevertheless, they can infect other people with hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

In very rare cases, complications such as paralysis or meningitis. The Probability of this happening is minimal.

Duration Of Infection

After infection, it usually takes three to ten days until the disease breaks out. The hand-foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious. In the first week, the viruses multiply particularly strongly. During this time, children are most contagious. Even symptoms have subsided after about 10 days, there is still a risk of infection and even weeks later, some infected persons still excrete the pathogens in their stool. Therefore, it is very important that you do not get infected after changing diapers or going to wash your hands thoroughly after changing diapers or going to the toilet.

The blisters are the most common cause of hand-foot-and-mouth disease are particularly contagious, because they contain a lot of viruses and can be transferred to other parts of the body by the secretion they other parts of the body. Therefore, you should pay special attention to hygiene during the much importance on hygiene, so that the disease does not spread further and can be transmitted to others.

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Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease During Pregnancy

During pregnancy diseases predominantly proceeds very mildly and without symptoms. Complications occur only rarely. If a woman becomes infected shortly before giving birth to her child the infection can be transmitted to the newborn. The Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is usually mild, even in newborns. Only very rare cases, vital organs such as the liver or heart can be affected liver or heart. In order to exclude this risk, it is important to consult a doctor at the first sign of the disease.


There is no drug treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease viruses. Antibiotics are generally not effective against viral infections. They only help against bacteria. Therefore, administration of antibiotics is necessary only if a bacterial infection develops in addition to hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

The treatment is limited to the relief of symptoms. Pain-relieving and fever-reducing medications such as acetaminophen may be administered.

Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA) is also a popular pain reliever and fever reducer. However, it is not suitable for children: in them, the drug can cause serious complications in combination with a viral infection. If you have this medicine at home, you should not give it to your child under any circumstances.

For the painful blisters the doctor may prescribe a soothing tincture for dabbing or rinsing rinse. Herbal remedies such as chamomile, lemon balm, and thyme can also have a pain-relieving effect. If your child has been infected with hand-foot-and-mouth disease infected with hand-foot-and-mouth disease, you should also make sure that he or she drinks enough despite the pain in the mouth area.

Treatment With Home Remedies

If your child has contracted Hand-foot-and-mouth disease, you can also do something about the symptoms yourself do something yourself. The following home remedies help against fever and pain:

  • Calf compresses can help with fever.
  • The blisters in the mouth often cause discomfort when chewing and swallowing. Foods that are lukewarm or cooled and do not require much chewing (such as yogurt, pudding, soup) make eating easier. Helpful drinks include cooled chamomile or calendula tea.
  • Painful blisters in the mouth can be dabbed with a cotton swab dipped in honey.
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Hand-Mouth-Foot Disease: Diagnosis

If you discover symptoms such as a rash, your family doctor or pediatrician is the right person to contact. The doctor will first obtain information about the history of the disease. You should be prepared for the following questions be prepared:

  • What are your child’s symptoms?
  • Has your child had contact with other children with hand-foot-and-mouth disease?
  • Is your child taking any medications?
  • What diseases has your child been vaccinated against?

Then the doctor will examine your child examine your child. On the basis of the given information the hand-mouth-foot disease can usually be clearly determined

How Can I Protect Myself?

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap. Hygiene is essential, especially before changing diapers and when going to the toilet.
  • Carefully clean all objects such as toys or doorknobs with which the sick child has had contact.
  • Close physical contact such as hugging or kissing should be avoided during the period of illness.
  • At mealtimes, you should make sure that your child has his or her own cutlery and plates.

Course And Prognosis

The hand-mouth-foot disease is asymptomatic or very mild in most children. Pain can be treated with painkillers or Pain can be treated with painkillers or home remedies. After the disease usually subsides on its own.

Unfortunately, there is no vaccination in this country. Infection can best be avoided by thorough hygiene. First and foremost, this means washing your hands regularly with soap. This applies especially after sneezing or coughing, after going to the toilet, after changing diapers, and before and after preparing food.

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Because of the high risk of infection, affected children with acute symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease should not visit community facilities such as kindergartens or schools if possible. Children should remain at home until they are fever-free and the blisters are dry.

FAQ About Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease


RKI guidebook“Hand-foot-and-mouth disease” by the Robert Koch Institute (2017)

Konrad Bork, Walter Burgdorf, Nikolaus Hoede: Oral mucosal and lip diseases: Clinic, diagnostics and therapy. Schattauer, 2008.

Jan Vagedes, Georg Soldner: Das Kinder-Gesundheitsbuch: Kinderkrankheiten ganzheitlich vorbeugen und heilen. GU.

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