It’s one of the most common childhood viruses, but just what is hand, foot and mouth disease and what happens if you get it as an adult?

It may be typically associated with young children, but hand, foot and mouth disease is not only a childhood disease – it can affect adults as well. Children under 10 years of age are most at risk due to the close contact within childcare and school environments, and while the disease is usually mild, it is also highly contagious. So what should you do if you contract the disease as an adult?

What To Look For

When it comes to looking for symptoms of the disease, it’s all in the name. If you’ve got small, red blisters appearing on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet, chances are you’ve got the infection and can expect them to last 7-10 days. Young children may also have a low fever, feel lethargic or lose their appetite for a couple of days. The virus can be spread from the faeces of an infected person to the mouth of another person via contaminated hands (how glamorous), through excretions from the mouth and respiratory system, and as a result of direct contact with the fluid from the blisters. Even though it all sounds a bit icky, there are some precautions you can take to prevent the disease and important things to bear in mind when treating it.


What To Do About It

It’s pretty self-explanatory, but if you want to avoid HFMD start by washing your hands! Good hygiene is the best defence against the infection, so use soap and warm water after using the bathroom, eating, changing nappies and wiping your child’s nose. The blisters will dry out naturally, so avoid the temptation to burst them and only use paracetamol in case of a fever. If you have HFMD yourself, stay home from work – it’s just not worth the risk of spreading the infection to others. Take time off until the rash is gone completely. Children who are infected should be kept home from school, and it’s always a good idea to report it to the childcare centre or school so they are informed.

HMFD is a relatively harmless illness that most children, and some adults, but it’s important to remember that if you or your child experiences high fever, rapid breathing, excessive tiredness or difficulty walking, you should see a doctor immediately.

Have you contracted HFMD as an adult? Share your story in the comments.

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  • NO. It is contagious. You should not handle food. You should wear a mask so you don’t breathe on anybody, wear gloves, and your clothes must be washed separately. Health Dept. instructions. I know somebody who had it and sought advice.


  • Just stay home and recover. That goes for any illness.


  • I dont think its nice to go out … I wont like the look ppl give me :(


  • I have never had it and so far neither my son. I wouldn’t go to work if I had symptoms as I wouldn’t want to spread it!


  • My daughter has had this twice and its a pain


  • Absolutely check with your doctor about reentering the workplace if you have it!


  • I would also check with your doctor to let them tell you when it is ok to return to work, so you are not contagious.


  • I had heard this was a common childhood illness, but my kids never got it. I would suggest if you have anything contagious, you should avoid school and work and crowds, anything to minimise spreading infection


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