Hand, Foot and Mouth is a common childhood illness that usually clears up on its own within 7-10 days.

But how do you know if it is hand, foot and mouth disease?

The first signs of hand, foot and mouth disease are usually:

  • A sore throat
  • A high temperature, above 38C
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Over the following days, ulcers and a rash will appear in and around the mouth, making it painful to eat and drink
  • Red spots, which develop into blisters, will appear on the hands and feet
  • Sometimes, the same red spots will appear around the nappy area in very young children.

The symptoms are generally the same in adults and children but can be much worse in adults.

How to treat hand, foot and mouth disease yourself

Hand, foot and mouth disease CANNOT be treated with antibiotics.  It usually gets better by itself within 7-10 days.

To help with the symptoms you can:

  • Drink fluids – this will help to prevent dehydration – but remember to avoid things like fruit juice.
  • Eat soft foods – like soups and yoghurts – avoid hot, spicy foods until the symptoms have eased.
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to help with the pain.


You don’t need to see your GP about hand, foot and mouth disease unless:

  • Your symptoms don’t improve after 7 to 10 days
  • Your temperature is very high or you feel hot and shivery
  • You’re concerned about dehydration
  • You’re pregnant and catch hand, foot and mouth disease.


Hand, foot and mouth disease is very contagious and is easily spread in coughs, sneezes and poo.

A person with the disease is infectious from a few days before the symptoms appear but it’s most contagious in the first 5 days after.

To prevent the spread of hand, foot and mouth disease:

  • Wash your hands often, and encourage your children to do the same
  • Use tissues when you sneeze and cough, then bin them as quickly as possible
  • Don’t share towels, cups, or other household items
  • Was soiled bedding and clothing on a hot wash.

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