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Hand, foot and mouth disease, my experiences

Five days ago, Tibbs began to refuse her food at dinner time. That night, she slept like a teething baby, waking, crying, every two hours. By the next day, small red spots appeared on one of her legs. She started to get inconsolably upset when she tried to swallow solid food, and drooling excessively. By the next day, her forearms, legs, and bum were covered in raised red spots of varying sizes. By the day after, her face, nostrils, and lips all had similar spots.

Here’s a quick round-up of hand, foot and mouth, and how it’s affected our 11 month old. Of course, I’m not a doctor or a medical professional, so this is about our experiences only. Do consult your GP.

Hand, foot and mouth is a virus. It is not related to the animal condition, foot and mouth disease.

How do you catch hand, foot and mouth?

I don’t really know how or where she caught it. It’s a very infectious virus and people who have it should keep themselves or their infected children away from others (see below). It’s transferred by close contact with the saliva, sneezes, faeces or coughs of somebody else who’s infected. It’s usually from hand to hand contact, or hand on surface. As you can imagine, nurseries and playgroups are pretty popular places to get it. Adults can also get it, and several of my friends have mentioned it affected them too when their children had it.

What are the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth?

It begins with cold-like symptoms, including the aches that can bring. There can often be a persistent, low-grade fever. The child then develops mouth and throat ulcers, followed by the raised, red spots which are often blister like. The spots can appear most commonly on, guess where, the hands, feet and mouth (including palms and soles). However, Tibbs’ spots are on her forearms, thighs and shins, bottom and lower face. They look awful, really raised and sore. However, they are not sore and children rarely notice them. The spots can also not be present, or very sparsely appearing. Tibbs lost her appetite and had a snotty nose for 24 hours before the rest of the symptoms developed.

How does hand, foot and mouth affect your child?

Our baby has stopped eating solid food. She’s starving hungry and keeps trying, but the most she can manage is cold puree. Her sleep us very disturbed because of the pain in her throat, and the excess saliva is sometimes making her vomit. She’s lethargic, grumpy, and finding it difficult to soothe herself. She also seems to be feeling the cold more. She’s also a little bored, because she is contagious and can’t go to nursery.

How do you treat hand, foot and mouth?

There’s no medicine or cure specifically for the virus. I think it’s best to refer to the NHS here, in fact, the whole link is good for information. Interestingly, our GP gave us antibiotics, which I am duly using. I wonder why, considering the NHS doesn’t recommend them on that info page.

How can I make my child feel better when they have hand, foot and mouth?

What’s worked for us is trying to make her throat as comfortable as possible with Calpol, Nurofen, and nice cold drinks. We’ve also been told to try ice lollies which we will be doing tonight. She has also enjoyed chomping on breadsticks, but I think this is because it makes her feel like she’s eating something.

We’ve also used Anbesol and Dentinox on her mouth, trying to numb the pain a little.

We know the rash doesn’t hurt, but we’ve been massaging her arms and legs before bed with E45, which she absolutely loves. As her Dad says, imagine if a giant hand that fits around your whole leg was massaging you, who wouldn’t love it?

How long does hand, foot and mouth last?

Tricky one. I don’t know how long this will go on for! Other sources say the symptoms last 7-10 days, with the throat and sore feelings fading away before the rash does. It’s day four for us, and she’s definitely a bit brighter, but still can’t eat.

My top hand, foot and mouth tips

  • If you have childcare, get a doctor’s note ASAP. Our nursery won’t let her back until five days after diagnosis, which for us, is three days after symptoms first showed. That’s a lot of missed work days.
  • What worked for us regards controlling the sore throat was a bit of Dentinox around the gums. The extra drool seemed to carry it around and produce a numbing affect
  • We also found that she wasn’t massively keen on the Calpol syringe and tried using a spoon instead
  • Remember to try and give your child extra drinks if you can. They will be thirsty and probably more hungry than normal

Do check out that NHS site, it’s a great start for more information.

Have you had hand, foot and mouth in the house? What helped your kids through it, and what was a waste of time?




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  1. Hope she’s feeling better soon! It’s horrible seeing your little ones poorly isn’t it? Mine haven’t had hand, foot and mouth {touch wood} I remember them all having chicken pox though! That wasn’t fun πŸ˜‰

  2. I remember my little sister getting this. Wilf had a similar thing about a year ago called Impetigo. Poor thing, hope she feels better soon x

  3. Thanks both, she’s feeling a lot better today, it’s great to have my sunny little girl back!

  4. I remember my friends little boy suffering from this a few times when he was little and it wasn’t nice! Hope she’s feeling a bit better, and thanks for sharing the information!

  5. Poor thing πŸ™ Hope she’s better soon! E hasn’t had this yet, but some of her friends have x

  6. Hope she gets better soon. My girls had this when they were school age. I hadn’t heard of it until I was teaching. My 2 year old is ill at the moment- high temp and spots. I took her docs as I was concerned, she has been given anti-biotics and calpol and told she has some sort of “infection” but no specifics. She is slowly on the mend though. Thanks for the useful post…that giant massage does sound nice, I’d never thought of baby massage like that before! x

  7. Oh bless you, hope she’s feeling better now, F had this but very mildly and we made sure we stayed away from any playgroups. Adults can get it too so watch how you go. I think F lived on yoghurt and pureed banana for a few days. x

  8. My son had this when he was a few months old – it’s not nice – but what was worst is my partner developed a form of it as well, which does not happen very often in adults but is a lot worst when it does – having them both down with this virus was not pleasant at all. Great informative post!

    Laura x

  9. oh no! doesn’t sound too good! i remember it ‘doing the rounds’ when i was little, and we had to stay away from all of our friends ‘just in case’. hope the little one makes a speedy recovery!

  10. This really doesn’t sound fun! You’ve survived another parenting woe! Hope she’s mending well.

  11. This sounds awful for all of you! Hope she’s fully better soon. It’s horrible when they’re ill, isn’t it (apart from when it means they want lots of hugs) x

  12. Urgh, I hope she’s feeling better now. HFMD is easily in my top 3 least favourite thing the girls have had… we relied on ice lollies and lots of cool bath.

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