Hand, foot and mouth disease is highly contagious. Children who have the infection pass it on easily by touching another child, or even by touching toys that other children will touch. Children with hand, foot and mouth disease should be kept home from day care or school until all their blisters have dried and they are feeling well.
The virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease is present in the fluid within the blisters, as well as in fluids from the nose, mouth and lungs. So blisters should be allowed to dry out naturally, rather than popped.
Hand, foot and mouth disease can also be spread through the air by coughing, sneezing and talking, so keeping children with the infection away from others as much as possible is important. Good hygiene is the key.
The best way to prevent hand, foot and mouth disease from spreading is to practise good hygiene. This includes:
- washing hands thoroughly after touching fluids from a person with hand, foot and mouth disease
- making sure children don’t share items such as drinking cups
- teaching children how to wash their hands, and how to cover their mouth when they cough, and how to cover their nose and mouth when they sneeze
- thoroughly washing any soiled clothing and any surfaces or toys that may have been contaminated
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Last reviewed: November 2020