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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan and Physician Brandon Yew on October 21, 2022

How To Manage Hand Foot And Mouth Disease In Kids And Adults

Published | 7 min read

Hand foot and mouth disease isn't as common in adults as it is in children, but you can still get it. These prevention tips and remedies can help.

Hand foot mouth hands min scaled

Hand foot and mouth disease primarily occurs in children under the age of five. Your child may bring it home from daycare or school where toys are shared without proper hand-washing.

However, because it’s highly contagious, it’s not uncommon for adults to get it, too.

This article discusses several facts about hand foot and mouth disease, its causes and symptoms, and the available remedies and prevention steps to take.

What Is Hand Foot And Mouth Disease?

Symptoms of hand foot and mouth disease include a rash on your hands, feet, mouth, and genital areas.

Hand foot mouth disease is primarily caused by coxsackieviruses that live in the human digestive tract. Typically, the disease can pass from one person through close contact with an infected person — hugging, kissing, or sharing cups or utensils.

Similarly, people can also expose themselves to infection if they touch an infected person’s feces or contaminated objects. You can also get it if you are exposed to respiratory droplets that contain virus particles after a sick person coughs or sneezes. 

Symptoms Of Hand Foot And Mouth Disease

Interestingly, infected adults may not present with any physical symptoms of hand foot and mouth disease. Therefore, it can be difficult to get treatment before infecting other people.

Children are likely to present with sores and skin rashes. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), skin appearance is a reflection of Lung health. If your organ system or the Spleen is compromised, it’ll make your skin vulnerable to pathogens such as Wind-Heat and Damp-Heat that cause rashes.


The first signs of infection are fatigue, a fever, sore throat, or lack of appetite. Subsequently, the fever can develop into painful sores in the mouth. Medically known as herpangina, these sores will usually present at the back of the throat or on the roof of the mouth, tonsils, uvula, or tongue, can blister, and cause extreme pain.


At the same time, an itchy skin rash may also develop on a person’s palms, toes, or feet soles. These tiny red spots can also progress to other areas like the buttocks, stomach, and genital area.

How To Prevent Hand Foot And Mouth Disease

Children under the age of five are most at risk, but adults can get hand foot and mouth disease, too.

Unfortunately, there is no cure or vaccine available for this disease. Nevertheless, a person usually recovers within 7-10 days. On a brighter note, you can take a few steps to resist a potential infection.

Practice good hygiene 

Washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and clean water can help to prevent an infection. Ideally, adults should wash their hands immediately after changing a child’s diaper, using the toilet, blowing their nose, coughing, sneezing, or attending to a sick person’s needs. 

Alternatively, if a person doesn’t have access to soap and clean water, they may opt to use an alcohol-based sanitizer to quickly reduce the number of germs on their hands.

In addition, it’s important to disinfect frequently touched surfaces with a chlorine bleach solution or soap, or detergent-based household cleaner. These include doorknobs and door handles, light switches, tables, and countertops.

Avoid contact with infected people 

If a family member or friend has hand foot and mouth disease, refrain from hugging or kissing them. Likewise, if you’ve been diagnosed with the disease, stay home to avoid potentially spreading it to others.

Boost your immunity  

A strong immune system is one of the most effective ways to repel the virus. TCM can help strengthen the body’s defense system, which can further reduce complications from hand, foot and mouth disease.

According to TCM Physician Brandon Yew, “From a TCM perspective, the level of risk of infection depends on the person’s unique body constitution. This is characterized by varying specific imbalances, such as the kind of pathogens or type of Deficiency present in the body. The more significant the imbalance of the person, the weaker their immunity, and the greater the risk of infection.” 

There are several ways to boost your immunity naturally. These include eating nutritious foods, drinking enough water, getting quality sleep nightly, managing stress, and regularly performing physical activity.

You can also use acupressure to help boost immune strength. Press your fingers on the acupressure points He Gu (LI4) and Zu San Li (ST36) for several seconds and then release. Repeat up to three times.

Health Supplements That Support Immunity 

The consumption of health supplements can support immune-boosting lifestyle habits.

Green Propolis 

Research shows that green propolis extract demonstrates anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects whilst enhancing the immune system.

It also helps with GI disorders like colitis, gastritis, mucositis, and peptic ulcers. In fact, the ingredient has shown a potential ability to reduce the risk of gastrointestinal cancer.

Furthermore, the efficacy of this potent TCM ingredient is supported by the findings of various accomplished scholars and institutions. 

For instance, French scientist Professor Remy Chauvin proved in 1968 that it’s not possible for bacteria to culture in beehives. Meanwhile, in 1987, Oxford University discovered that propolis has 149 active bio-components.

Then, in 1991, the World Bee Conference certified that propolis has approximately 100 natural crude drug ingredients, including flavonoids. In that same year, Tetsuya Matsuno from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases also presented breakthrough evidence that propolis contains 3 anti-cancer agents which can destroy cancer cells without causing any side effects.


Yogurt is a good source of probiotics that many kids will eat.

In TCM, good gut health is vital as our food intake is ultimately converted to qi (vital energy) and blood elements that are crucial for the nourishment of the mind and body.

The primary organ responsible for maintaining a healthy and functioning digestive system is the Spleen. Besides digesting food, the Spleen and Stomach also take on the combined role of breaking down food into nutrients and subsequently converting them into the vital qi and blood elements.

It is essential to maintain a healthy Spleen – the source of acquired constitution – so that our body has the energy needed to carry out daily activities.

Probiotics can enhance the immune system and may reduce an adult’s risk of infection. This attributes to probiotics’ primary function, which is to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestines.

Though, it’s worth noting that both probiotics and Brazilian green propolis extract are not suitable for children below age one.

Asthmatics and people with allergies should also refrain from consuming these supplements as they can trigger anaphylaxis — an adverse and potentially life-threatening bodily reaction.

Bo Ying Compound 

For children, an herbal remedy called Bo Ying Compound can help with pediatric illnesses like hand foot and mouth disease.

Formulated through generations of wisdom, this traditional supplement is backed by modern research. Specifically, clinical studies show that you can consume Bo Ying Compound to reduce Heat and detoxify the body without causing any side effects. 

Studies show that TCM treatment could reduce disease severity and mortality. The use of TCM herbs like Isatis root (Ban Lan Gen), Anerbia root (Zi Cao), and honey suckle (Jin Yin Hua) can potentially ease symptoms of hand foot and mouth disease.

Bo Ying Compound may also help relieve symptoms. However, for severe cases, TCM can be used as a complementary treatment for adults and children prone to side effects of oral anesthesia. 

Aim To Prevent Hand Foot And Mouth Disease

Prevention is better than cure is an age-old proverb that still holds today. Hence, adults need to heed this advice to ensure that their children and themselves can stave off hand foot and mouth disease and other contagious infections. 

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