Shaken Baby Syndrome

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Amniotic fluid problems

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Choosing a pre-school

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Newborn reflexes

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Pelvic floor exercises

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Antenatal Classes

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  • Shaken Baby Syndrome

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:28
  • Amniotic fluid problems

    Thursday, 14 May 2015 12:54
  • Choosing a pre-school

    Friday, 10 April 2015 17:50
  • Newborn reflexes

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:49
  • Mastitis

    Tuesday, 03 March 2015 15:41
  • Pelvic floor exercises

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:20
  • Colic

    Wednesday, 11 February 2015 17:11
  • Antenatal Classes

    Monday, 03 June 2013 09:34
  • Strap-in-the-Future

    Thursday, 30 June 2011 13:52

Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a mild viral infection that causes blisters to appear in the mouth and on the hands and feet. The illness is caused by the coxsackievirus A and generally occurs in children under the age of 10, but it can also occur in older children and adults. Epidemics of hand, foot and mouth disease usually occur during the summer and early autumn. There is no connection between this disease and the foot and mouth disease that occurs in cattle and other animals (Collins, 2003; NSW Government, 2008; Victoria Health Department, 2011).


The disease is spread by direct contact with; saliva, the fluid from blisters, nose and throat discharge, airborne droplets produced by coughing or sneezing and faeces (Victoria Health Department, 2011).


Hand, foot and mouth disease has an incubation period of 3-5 days. A coxsackievirus infection may produce no symptoms at all or very mild symptoms, these may include;

  • Mild fever, possibly starting a day or 2 before the characteristic rash appears
  • Tiredness
  • Sore mouth, throat or runny nose
  • General malaise
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mild stomach pain or nausea
  • Blisters on the insides of the cheeks, gums, and the sides of the tongue. They may start off as small red dots and then develop into sore, shallow ulcers.
  • In infants, the blisters can be seen in the nappy area.
  • 1-2 days after the blisters appear in the mouth, blisters develop on the hands and feet.
  • The blisters are not usually itchy or painful and tend to last for 7-10 days (Collins, 2003; HealthLinkBC, 2009; NSW Government, 2008).


A diagnosis is usually made on the basis of the characteristic blister-like rash on the hands, feet and mouth of a child with a mild febrile illness. Although tests are available to confirm the diagnosis, they are rarely utilized because they are expensive and time consuming (NY Department of Health, 2006).


Hand, foot and mouth disease is a relatively mild infection that is treated symptomatically. Encourage your child to drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.  If your child is finding it difficult to eat or drink due to painful mouth ulcers, offer them ice cubes, jelly, yoghurt or popsicles. Soft foods are preferable and spicy, sour foods should be avoided. If your child is complaining of pain or they have a fever, give them liquid paracetamol in appropriate doses to ease their discomfort. Gargling or rinsing the mouth with salt water or an antiseptic mouth wash, may relieve the pain associated with mouth sores. Antibiotics are ineffective in treating HFMD due it its viral nature and there is no vaccine available (MyDr, 2005; Raising Children Network, 2006-2011).


The disease is usually infectious from the time the first symptoms appear until the blisters become crusty and contain no fluid. The illness can still be transmitted from one person to another in the faeces, for several weeks after the blisters have resolved.

Good hygiene is key in the prevention of hand, foot and mouth disease.

Teach children to sneeze or cough into a tissue, in order to prevent the spread of airborne droplets. Encourage them to throw their tissues directly into the dustbin after use and to wash their hands thoroughly

Hand washing is also important after contact with the blister-like lesions and after contact with faeces, such as changing a nappy.

It is important to allow the blisters to dry out and heal on their own, because their fluid-filled centre is contagious.

Avoid the sharing of eating and drinking utensils while your child is ill.

It is best if children with HFMD are kept out of school until their blisters have dried (HealthLinkBC, 2009; MyDr, 2005; Victoria Health Department, 2011).

Contact your doctor immediately if:

  • Your child is refusing liquids and solids.
  • You suspect your child is dehydrated.
  • Your child is presenting with a high fever, together with a rash or is generally unwell.
  • You suspect that your child has hand, foot and mouth disease or you are unsure of the origin of their fever and rash.
  • HFMD is rarely associated with complications, such as meningitis. If your child develops a stiff neck, back pain and headache, seek medical attention (Raising Children Network, 2006-2011; MyDr, 2005).