Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood illness that can affect adults. It usually clears up by itself in 7 to 10 days.
The first signs of hand, foot and mouth disease can be:
After a few days mouth ulcers and a rash will appear.
Ulcers appear in the mouth and on the tongue. These can be painful and make it difficult to eat or drink
The symptoms are usually the same in adults and children, but they can be much worse in adults.
It's possible to get hand, foot and mouth disease more than once.
Look at other childhood rashes.
Hand, foot and mouth disease has nothing to do with foot and mouth disease that affects farm animals.
You can't take antibiotics or medicines to cure hand, foot and mouth disease – it has to run its course. It usually gets better in 7 to 10 days.
To help with the symptoms:
Speak to your pharmacist for advice about treatments, such as mouth ulcer gels, sprays and mouthwashes to relieve pain.
They can tell you which ones are suitable for children.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is infectious. Check with your GP surgery before going. They may suggest a phone consultation.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is easily passed on to other people. It's spread in coughs, sneezes and poo.
You're infectious from a few days before you have any symptoms, but you're most likely to give it to others in the first 5 days after symptoms start.
To reduce the risk of spreading hand, foot and mouth disease:
Keep your child off school or nursery while they are feeling unwell.
But as soon as they're feeling better, they can go back to school or nursery. There's no need to wait until all the blisters have healed. Keeping your child off for longer is unlikely to stop the illness spreading.
Although there's normally no risk to the pregnancy or baby, it's best to avoid close contact with anyone who has hand, foot and mouth disease.
This is because:
Speak to your GP or midwife if you have been in contact with someone with hand, foot and mouth disease.
Page last reviewed: 10/01/2018Next review due: 10/01/2021
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