by Dr Ratna Sridjaja, Paediatrician – Gleneagles Medical Centre

What you need to know about HFMD
HFMD is a common, highly contagious viral infections that usually begins in the throat. Common causes of HFMD are Coxsackie Virus A and Enterovirus 71

These viruses spread via direct contact with nose and throat discharges, saliva, fluid from blisters or the stools of an infected person. Young children below five years are particularly susceptible.

The disease is most contagious the first week of the disease. The time between infection and the development of symptoms is about 3 – 7 days.


  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat, drooling


  • Ulcers that occur primarily in the mouth, inside the cheeks, tongue and back of throat.
  • Rash that affects hands and feet. Buttocks and genitalia may exhibit similar rash.


Who are prone to infections?
Young children and infants who have no immunity to these viruses and whose personal hygiene habits further the spread of the virus via the oral-fecal route

Where are you at risk for infections?

  • Crowding areas such as in daycare centers, kindergartens, schools or any places that children congregate.
  • Poor sanitary areas.

When is it a concern?
You should seek medical attention if:

  • A high fever is not reduced by medication
  • Signs of dehydration occur:
    • Lethargy
    • Decreased or dark urine
  • Persistant irritability and/ pain in the neck.
  • Seizures

There is no treatment for HFMD. The disease has to run its course. Antibiotic is not useful and not indicated for the treatment of HFMD.

Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to ease painful mouth sores or discomfort associated with fever. Oral aid drops or gel can be dabbed onto sores to alleviate pain. Cold foods like ice cream and popsicles ease pain by numbing the area.

There is no vaccine to prevent HFMD. Hand washing is the best protection. Remind everyone in your family to wash their hands frequently, particularly after using the toilet, changing a diaper, before meals, and before preparing food. Shared toys in daycare centers should be routinely cleaned with a disinfectant because these viruses can live on objects for several days.


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