Although the name may conjure up worrying memories of foot and mouth disease in animals, you can rest assured that hand, foot and mouth disease is a common viral infection that has nothing to do with the condition that affects animals. Hand, foot and mouth disease mainly affects children who are under the age of 10.
What are the symptoms?
The incubation period between being infected by the virus and showing signs of the disease is 3-5 days. The early symptoms can seem a bit like a cold. Your child may have a cough and a temperature. He may lose his appetite, and have a tummy ache and a sore throat.
This is followed a day or two later by red spots inside his mouth – on the inside of the cheeks, gums and tongue. These small red spots develop into mouth ulcers, and your child may have as many as ten ulcers in his mouth. As with any mouth ulcer, they can be extremely uncomfortable and may make it painful to eat or drink.
The mouth ulcers are generally followed by small red spots on the skin, often on the back of the hands and on the side of the heels and fingers. They aren't usually painful but they do sometimes develop into small blisters which may be uncomfortable. The infection can be passed on to another person through the fluid in these blisters if they burst.
Usually, all the symptoms will go within a week, and won't need any medical treatment, but you may wish to contact your family doctor if you have concerns about any of symptoms or if you want to be sure that your child does have hand, food and mouth disease.