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Hand-foot-and-mouth disease: Tips for preventing

While there is currently no vaccine for hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD), you can lower your risk of catching it.

Hand washing can help prevent you from getting hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Frequently washing your hands can prevent you from catching so many diseases that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls hand washing a “do-it-yourself vaccine.”

Father and son washing hands with soap in bathroom sink

Most people become infected when someone in their home has the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends the following when a household member has HFMD or you travel to an area of the world where outbreaks of HFMD are common, such as parts of Asia:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water often. Hand washing is especially important:

    • After using the toilet
    • After changing diapers or potty training
    • Before eating
    • Before preparing food
    You’ll find other times the CDC recommends hand washing and how to effectively wash your hands at: When and how to wash your hands

    Because soap and water may not always be available, it can help to carry a travel-size hand sanitizer with you.

  2. Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. If a virus that causes HFMD is on a doorknob, toy, or other surface, you can get HFMD by touching the surface and later your face. The virus can get inside your body through your mouth, eyes, or nose.

  3. Avoid close contact with anyone who has HFMD. This disease often spreads when the infected person coughs or sneezes. Until you’re sure the person can no longer spread the virus to others, try to avoid getting too close, if possible.

    Most people are no longer contagious after 7 to 10 days, but it can take longer.

    Because the virus can spread with close contact, it also helps to stop kissing, hugging, and sharing food with the infected person.

  4. Disinfect counters, doorknobs, and other surfaces that people frequently touch. The virus that causes HFMD can spread from one person to another when you touch an infected surface. Disinfecting counters, doorknobs, toys, and other surfaces can help prevent the disease from spreading.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Hand-foot-and-mouth-disease.” Last updated December 22, 2017. Last accessed May 25, 2018.