HFMD, Hand Foot and Mouth Disease: Prevention

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is a disease caused by many different viruses. It is generally mild but complications can occur affecting the lungs, nervous system and the heart. The virus is highly contagious, and present all year round in Singapore. Children and infants, especially below 5 years old, are the most affected, but adults can also get the virus. HFMD lasts about 10 days and there is no actual cure or vaccine.

Common signs & symptoms:

–          Fever;

–          Sore throat;

–          Ulcers in the throat, mouth and tongue;

–          Headache;

–          Rash with vesicles on arms, on the palm side of the hands.  It may also be located in the legs, the sole side of the feet and on the buttocks;

–          Vomiting;

–          Poor appetite;

–          Lethargy.

How does HFMD spread?

The virus spreads through direct contact with the nasal secretions, saliva, faeces and fluid from rashes and can circulate through the air through coughing and sneezing.

Some people may not have symptoms but still be infected. People are more contagious during the first week of infection but the virus remains in the body several weeks and can still be spread.

What to do if your child gets HFMD?

–          Give your child plenty of water to avoid dehydration as it is the most common complication that can occur with HFMD. Avoid juice and sodas as the acid contained inside may be painful because of mouth ulcers;

–          Change to a soft diet such as porridge, pureed fruit in case of mouth ulcers as it will be easier to swallow;

–          Resting will help your child recovering;

–          Keep your child at home until the symptoms disappear and inform the kindergarten or school.

How to reduce the risk of infection?

–          Good personal hygiene is the best way to prevent being infected. Always keep your hands clean and often wash your hands thoroughly with soap especially after changing diapers;

–          Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;


–          Limit contact with infected people and wash your hands after any contact;

–          Don’t share foods, drinks, plate and other personal objects;

–          Disinfect and sanitize surfaces, toys to avoid cross contamination;

–          Cover your mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing.

For more information visit: http://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/dandc-article/792


MOH. 2014. Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/diseases_and_conditions/h/hfmd.html.


webmd. 2014. Facts About Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.webmd.com/children/hand-foot-mouth-disease.


mayoclinic. 2014. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hand-foot-and-mouth-disease/basics/symptoms/con-20032747

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