Parents urged to look for signs of hand, foot and mouth disease as virus spreads

PARENTS are being urged to look out for the symptoms of hand foot and mouth disease in children, as the illness spreads across the country. 

Autumn is when the condition is most likely to appear in kids, experts say, causing outbreaks in schools or nurseries.


Hand, foot and mouth disease rashCredit: Getty

Dr Stephanie Ooi, GP at MyHealthcare Clinic –  a doctor-led private healthcare business in London – said: “It’s the time of year where we see more cases of hand, foot and mouth

“The condition is caused by a virus which manifests itself in a fever, mouth ulcers and blisters on the hands and feet.”

Adults can also get hand, foot and mouth. But it is the most severe in children and babies.

Although the disease itself is not serious, parents should watch out for signs of dehydration.

It can be hard to get enough liquids when there are painful, oozing ulcers in the mouth.

Dr Ooi said: “Signs of dehydration can include an altered level of consciousness, decreased urine output, sunken eyes, dry lips and mouth and pale or mottled skin.

“If you notice any of these symptoms then see your GP for an assessment.”

The disease has nothing to do with foot and mouth disease that affects farm animals like cows and sheep.

What are the signs of hand, foot and mouth disease?

The symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease develop over a few days after exposure.

Dr Ooi said: “Children typically get a sore throat, loss of appetite and fever followed by the ulcers and blisters about one to two days later.”

The red spots in the mouth will develop into larger yellow mouth ulcers that can be sore.

Soon after, you’ll notice small, red raised bumps on the skin, usually on the hands, feet and sometimes around the bottom and groin.

These spots may turn into blisters that last for around 10 days.

Mouth ulcers caused by the disease


Mouth ulcers caused by the diseaseCredit: nhs
The rash starts as small raised bumps


The rash starts as small raised bumpsCredit: nhs
The rash turns into blisters


The rash turns into blistersCredit: nhs

How to treat hand, foot and mouth disease 

Parents may be concerned to see their little one covered in blisters.

But they should be reassured that the disease usually gets better on its own after seven to 10 days, according to the NHS.

Dr Ooi says the most important thing for parents is to ensure their children are well hydrated. 

She said: “Mouth ulcers will be sore so expect your child to be off their food. It’s important to ensure they are drinking enough.”

Dr Ooi recommends offering your children watery fruits such as watermelon, frozen juice or smoothie lollies, which may also be soothing on the mouth.

She continued: “Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used if they have a fever or the ulcers or blisters are sore. 

“If the blisters are irritating, some parents find calamine lotion helpful.”

Dr Ooi says parents should see their local doctor if there are any signs of dehydration in their children or if their ulcers persist for more than three weeks. 

“If there is an ongoing fever for more than five days, or an ongoing headache, then see your GP,” Dr Ooi added. 

“And also see them if there is any confusion, drowsiness or extreme lethargy.”

How to prevent hand, foot and mouth disease 

Hand, foot and mouth is easily spread between people in coughs, sneezes, fluid in the blisters and faeces.

It is most spread around five days after symptoms start.

You should keep your child off nursery or school while they are unwell.

Dr Ooi said: “Children are safe to return to school or nursery as soon as they are feeling better and there is no need to stay off until the blisters have healed.”

There are various measures to reduce the risk of transmission, including good hand washing and taking care when handling dirty nappies or soiled bedding.

She said: “Don’t pierce blisters as the fluid is infectious, and take care with nappies because the virus is present in the poo and can be found for a few weeks after recovery.”

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