Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common and usually benign infection (in most cases!!). Many parents will be very familiar with it and we commonly see cases of HFMD in our surgery. So what do you need to know about HFMD?

Who gets HFMD and what causes it?

HFMD is caused by a virus called Coxsackie and it mainly affects children under the age of ten. We most commonly see it in those attending a creche or pre-school or who are in junior infants. In adults it is rare and usually very mild.

What are the symptoms of HFMD? Are there any complications?

It starts usually with a sore throat. Most children will feel unwell, will probably be off their food and have a fever too in some cases. Spots then appear on the mouth, lips, hands or feet or a combination of all three. Sometimes they appear on the abdomen, face, buttocks or genital areas too. Symptoms generally last up to 4-5 days.

Complications are very rare thankfully, and children recover completely in almost every case.

What medication can I give for HFMD?

As it is a viral infection, no medication will treat the infection itself, but it is definitely worth giving Calpol or Nurofen for fever or pain that comes with it. Fluids help too, and trying to eat and drink as normally as possible is advised in those suffering with HFMD.

How is HFMD spread?

It is generally spread through bad hand hygiene or coughing and sneezing and so children will readily spread it to their friends and siblings, despite the best efforts of parents and teachers!!

Is it related to the disease of the same name in cows?

No, happily there is no association!

Should I get the diagnosis confirmed at my GP or the Out-of-Hours?

Generally this is not necessary.

However, if you are unsure of the diagnosis, your child is getting sicker or cannot swallow or your gut feeling is that you think there is something more serious going on then you should consider getting your child reviewed.

Can I send my child to school or creche with HFMD?

Schools and creches will generally have their own policies on this. Medically, children should be sent to school or creche as long as you feel they are fit to do so.

The HSE and the NHS in the UK generally advise that you do not need to exclude your child due to HFMD.

Should I be worried about HFMD exposure if I am pregnant?

If you are pregnant and develop HFMD or you think that you might have been exposed to it, it is highly unlikely that your baby will have any problems. If you are exposed in the three weeks before your due date it is worth telling your obstetrician.

If you are worried about a rash that has developed in one of your children then please contact us to see one of the team on 01-8461335 or 01-8038881. Alternatively you can e-mail us on info@portmarnockgpclinic.ie. 

Don’t forget we are covered by the out-of-hours service NorthDoc on 1850 22 44 77.