Hand, foot and mouth disease is typically spread through close contact, such as kissing, hugging, and sharing drinks or eating utensils, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HFMD is also spread through coughing, sneezing and contact with infected feces or blister fluid.
HFMD is a viral illness that most often affects children under 5 years of age, but older children and adults can also get the disease, notes the CDC. HFMD starts with a fever, a sore throat and decreased appetite. Around two days later, painful sores usually appear in the mouth, along with a skin rash on the soles of the feet and the palms of the hands. The rash, which looks like flat, red spots, does not itch, but it may form blisters. The illness usually resolves in seven to 10 days.
Individuals can reduce their risk of HFMD by regularly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers, states the CDC. Individuals should also refrain from touching their eyes, nose or mouth until after they wash their hands. Regularly cleaning surfaces that are touched often, such as toys and doorknobs, and avoiding close contact with infected individuals can also reduce the risk of getting HFMD.