Hands, feet, mouth: causes and remedies

Hands, feet, mouth: causes and remedies

The so-called hand-foot-mouth disease, also known by the acronym MMPB, manifests itself with febrile forms accompanied by a vesicular rash that affects the mucous membranes of the mouth, hands and feet. It generally affects children.


  • Causes of Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease
  • Symptoms of Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease
  • Prevention and treatment of Hands-Foot-Mouth Disease

Causes of Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease

The cause of this infection is attributable to a family of viruses, the enteroviruses , usually the coxsackievirus A16, the enterovirus 71. 

It is a very common exanthematous infectious disease , which is transmitted only between humans. In many cases this virus is asymptomatic , so it is more widespread among children under the age of 5 and less among adolescents who may have developed immunity. The epidemiology of this virus varies according to the area, in western countries it is more widespread in the change of seasons

, while in Asian countries it is in circulation all year round and is caused by the most aggressive viral form, that caused by enterovirus 71 (EV71), which often leads to hospitalization conditions and possible deaths. 

The incubation times vary from 3 to 7 days , while the disease itself can last about ten days.

MMPB is highly contagious and transmission can occur via the fecal-oral route or by direct contact with saliva and nasal secretions through sneezing, coughing.

Transmission can also occur through indirect contact with contaminated objects or through water that is not properly purified such as that of swimming pools.

Symptoms of Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease

Hand-foot-mouth disease has 4 distinct manifestations :

  1. Diffuse vesiculo-bullous lesions;
  2. eczema with concentrated lesions;
  3. rash with flat erythematous papules distributed over the face, buttocks, hands and feet;
  4. purple lesions.

These topical manifestations are accompanied by an increase in temperature and possible dehydration. Special conditions

may then arise due to an immune system not yet completed and strengthened with complications:

  • neurological disorders, such as meningitis, encephalitis. These are rare cases, attributable to the EV7 virus;
  • pulmonary involvement, such as edema or interstitial pneumonia;
  • cardiac involvement: myocarditis, myopericarditis
  • onychomadesis: the loss of nails, which can occur in the following 40 days from the onset of the disease.

Prevention and Treatment of Hands-Foot-Mouth Disease

To date , there are no vaccines against the viruses that can cause MMPB, although 3 vaccines are being studied for the EV71 strain, which causes more serious complications. 

It is advisable to take care of the hygiene of hands and face, washing them often. Sanitize used toys and all accessories for eating, bottles, cutlery, plates. Sanitize bathrooms and change towels often.

There is also no causal cure for MMPB . The remedies are only symptomatic to soothe the effects due to the disease. Paracetamol to lower fever, fresh sponging with rice starch to soothe itching and burning blisters. Aloe or calendula gel to keep the skin hydrated, rinses based on myrrh or propolis to help heal the mucous membranes of the mouth. 

It is important to hydrate the child affected by MMPB well , so green light for ice creams, sorbets, ice lollies that refresh the mouth, are pleasant to the taste and help to introject important quantities of water to counteract dryness.

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