Good hygiene habits help protect your child from HFMD

August 8, 2018

Good hygiene habits can help to protect your child from hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), a highly infectious viral disease that is common among young children in Singapore, with outbreaks typically occurring in kindergartens and childcare centres.

While both adults and children can develop HFMD, children below the age of five are particularly susceptible to it. HFMD is caused by a type of virus called enterovirus and is spread through direct contact with the body fluids and secretions (e.g. nasal discharge, urine, saliva, stools, fluid from blisters) of an infected person.

HFMD symptoms, which vary from patient to patient, include:

  • Rash, typically with small pinkish blisters, on the hands and feet (commonly palms and soles), buttocks, arms, legs
  • Painful ulcers in the throat, mouth and tongue
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Headache
  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue, lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhoea

If your child has these symptoms, do consult a doctor immediately. Do not let your child go to school or a childcare centre, or any public places until you get the go-ahead from your doctor.

At home, to avoid infecting other family members, keep the child and all toys, books and other items being used, in a separate room. To protect yourself, avoid hugging and kissing the child and wash your hands thoroughly after changing a diaper or coming into contact with infected body fluids.

In most cases, HFMD symptoms are mild and patients are likely to recover completely in about a week, though the infection may remain in the body for a few more weeks. Treatment includes medication to control the fever and keeping the patient hydrated with fluids such as diluted juices, rice/barley water.

In rare cases, typically when the infection is caused by the EV 71 virus strain, complications such as brain, lung and heart infections may occur. In these cases, the patient may suffer from symptoms such as breathing difficulty, severe headache, dizziness and disorientation, and will require emergency medical attention.

Protect your children from HFMD by teaching them good hygiene dos and don’ts:


  • Wash hands with soap before eating and after going to the toilet
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Throw away used tissues


  • Share food, drinks, plates, bowls, cutlery, glasses during meals
  • Share toothbrushes, towels, clothes and other personal items

Category: Features, Wellness and Complementary Therapies

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