Hand-Foot-and-Mouth through a Mom’s Eyes

I am not a Doctor. Let me repeat, I am not a Doctor. However, I am a Mom of two kids age 7 and 5 and I am a caregiver to two toddlers age 13 months and 18 months. I feel I can confidently speak from experience when I say that HFM sucks to have! I have included an excerpt from the Mayo Clinic which contains professional jargon for this annoying disease. In my world, if it has the word ‘mayo’ in it, it’s good. However, if you want the cliff’s notes (mom’s notes), continue reading from here.

I had the “pleasure” of seeing two different pediatricians today because one of my kids had a well-visit appointment scheduled and one of the babies I watch was sick with HFM. I asked both Docs and this is what I learned:

HFM is everywhere, all the time. It is caused by a few different viruses and that’s why kids can get it multiple times. It is most common in toddlers and adults are typically immune. Possible side effects are fever, general discomfort, and sores which might show up on the hands, feet, and in and around the mouth (duh). Oddly, I’ve seen it concentrated in the diaper area and mostly on the tushy. Ouch! The sores tend to have a clear fluid bubble. Be careful not to confuse it with a diaper rash which is usually just red bumps and irritated skin.


The only way to lower your risk is washing everyone’s hands, cleaning toys, no hands in mouth-lol, etc. It’s contagious “forever” because it’s origin can be from multiple viruses. They tell parents as long as their kid has no fever they can return to school since chances are there are other viruses already present in the building. That’s comforting, isn’t it?

“It’s not polio, so stop worrying!”, is what they said to me. Hang in there, moms. It’s only a virus and the discomfort of the sores will last a few days. Ice cream, popsicles, and slushies, if the throat has sores. Otherwise, take a seat on the bench and play the Waiting Game. Ugh. Sigh. Snuggles to all!



The most common cause of hand-foot-and-mouth disease is infection with the coxsackievirus A16. The coxsackievirus belongs to a group of viruses called nonpolio enteroviruses. Other types of enteroviruses sometimes cause hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

Oral ingestion is the main source of coxsackievirus infection and hand-foot-and-mouth disease. The illness spreads by person-to-person contact with an infected person’s:

  • Nasal secretions or throat discharge
  • Saliva
  • Fluid from blisters
  • Stool
  • Respiratory droplets sprayed into the air after a cough or sneeze

Common in child care setting

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is most common in children in child care settings because of frequent diaper changes and potty training, and because little children often put their hands in their mouths.

Although your child is most contagious with hand-foot-and-mouth disease during the first week of the illness, the virus can remain in his or her body for weeks after the signs and symptoms are gone. That means your child still can infect others.

Some people, particularly adults, can pass the virus without showing any signs or symptoms of the disease.

Outbreaks of the disease are more common in summer and autumn in the United States and other temperate climates. In tropical climates, outbreaks occur year-round.

Different from foot-and-mouth disease

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease isn’t related to foot-and-mouth disease (sometimes called hoof-and-mouth disease), which is an infectious viral disease found in farm animals. You can’t contract hand-foot-and-mouth disease from pets or other animals, and you can’t transmit it to them.


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