Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a viral infection. It is common in infants and children. The infection can cause fever, mouth sores, and a skin rash on the hands, mouth, and feet.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
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HFMD is caused by an enterovirus. It spreads easily from person to person through contact with an infected person's:
- Fluid from blisters
This problem is more common in children under 10 years of age. Contact with an infected person raises the risk of infection.
Problems may be:
- Eating or drinking less than usual
- Sore throat
- Painful sores in the mouth
- A skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.
If the diagnosis is not clear, a throat swab or stool sample may be taken to find the virus causing the infection.
Most people get better on their own in 7 to 10 days. The goal is to manage symptoms and promote healing. Choices are:
- Over the counter pain relievers
- Drinking plenty of fluids
The risk of viral infection may be lowered by:
- Practicing proper handwashing
- Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
- Not touching the eyes, nose, and mouth
- Avoiding close contact with people who are infected
Aswathyraj S, Arunkumar G, et al. Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD): emerging epidemiology and the need for a vaccine strategy. Med Microbiol Immunol. 2016 Oct;205(5):397-407.
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hand-foot-and-mouth-disease. Accessed March 8, 2021.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/index.html. Accessed March 8, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 3/8/2021