May 15, 2024

Visual Guide: Understanding the Stages of Hand-Foot and Mouth Disease

Understanding Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a contagious infection predominantly characterized by the emergence of small, aphthae-like vesicles on various parts of the body, including palms, soles, tongue, heel, and face. Commonly seen in children, it is usually caused by the Coxsackie A16 virus or Enterovirus type 71. It should be noted that despite similar naming, HFMD is not related to foot-and-mouth disease, which affects only animals.

The Initial Stage

Before development into vesicles, HFMD can cause the onset of pre-vesicular lesions on palms, soles, labial mucosa, and palate. These precede the more recognizable symptoms of the disease: acral blisters. The disease is highly contagious, and if one person within a household contracts it, it can quickly lead to a family-wide outbreak.


Early symptoms often include mild fever, sore throat, anorexia, fatigue and reduced appetite. Advancing stages of HFMD typically cause the appearance of red spots and blisters on the skin, especially in the palms and feet. The blisters may also develop on dorsal hands, feet, lower legs, and even extend up the arms and antecubital fossa in severe cases, presenting as florid blisters on the surfaces of the skin.

Severe Cases of HFMD

While often benign, HFMD can evolve into serious complications in certain severe situations. For instance, Enterovirus 71 is known to cause particularly severe illness, with dangerous complications such as meningitis and encephalitis. It is important to seek out medical attention if these severe symptoms occur. Furthermore, HFMD can also lead to pneumonia, inflammation of the heart or brain, and miscarriage in pregnant individuals who become infected.

Transmission and Prevention

HFMD is highly infectious and spreads easily through direct contact with nasal and oral secretions and contaminated stool. This, combined with the fact that different virus strains can cause recurrent infections, underscores the necessity of rigorous hygiene practices. These include handwashing and maintaining cleanliness in living environments to discourage the propagation of the disease. It is also advisable to avoid close contact with those who are infected.

Treatment and Care

While no specific cure or vaccine exists for HFMD, early detection and treatment are crucial. Most treatments entail symptom management with pain relievers, over-the-counter mouth-numbing sprays, and demand for a high intake of fluids to avoid dehydration. Managing symptoms also involves eating cold foods and applying anti-itch creams to alleviate discomfort.

Medical Consultation and Facilities

Early detection and treatment require parents to seek medical attention at the first signs of symptoms, especially during peak seasons. Hospitals such as Vinmec International General Hospital are equipped for receiving and examining pediatric respiratory diseases, which includes HFMD.

Impact in Vietnam

Recent years have seen a significant increase in HFMD in Vietnam, emphasizing the necessity of raising awareness about the disease. An enchantment of emphasis lies on understanding its causes, symptoms, prevention methods, and the importance of immediate medical attention to avoid complications.

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