What Are the Symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?

Meshell Powell

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common childhood illness that usually resolves on its own after a few days. Some of the more common symptoms of the disease include loss of appetite, fever, and a general feeling of being unwell. After a couple of days, painful sores or blisters may begin to form in the mouth and throat. A rash may then develop on various areas of the body. This rash does not usually itch, although painful blisters may form, especially on the hands and feet. Some patients will experience only mild symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease, while others may experience significant discomfort.

Regular hand washing may help prevent the spread of HFMD.
Regular hand washing may help prevent the spread of HFMD.

In many cases, a decline in appetite is one of the first symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease. The child may continue to drink liquids or eat things like popsicles while showing little to no interest in solid foods. It is also common for the child with this condition to just lie around, not feeling like playing or participating in normal activities.

Children with HFMD initially present with a fever and sore throat.
Children with HFMD initially present with a fever and sore throat.

Fever and sore throat often present as symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease within a couple of days of becoming infected. Shortly thereafter, small sores may become noticeable in the mouth. These sores may turn into painful ulcers and may also become present in the throat.

A day or so after sores in the mouth develop, a rash may become noticeable, especially on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. Unlike other childhood rashes, this type of rash typically does not itch. Instead, painful blisters often develop. In some of the more severe cases, this rash may also be found on the buttocks or in the genital region of the body. This rash seldom lasts longer than one week.

When symptoms of the disease manifest, it is important to take precautions such as proper hand washing techniques, as this condition is contagious. This disease is normally short-lived and goes away on its own without any specific medical treatment being necessary. Specific symptoms may be treated in order to keep the patient as comfortable as possible during the duration of the illness. Over-the-counter pain medications, increased fluid intake, and sufficient rest are the most commonly used treatment methods. Any questions or concerns about the various symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

A sore throat will often present as a symptom within a couple of days of contracting hand, foot, and mouth disease.
A sore throat will often present as a symptom within a couple of days of contracting hand, foot, and mouth disease.

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