Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

(Vesicular Stomatitis With Exanthem)


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:

  • Mucus
  • Sputum
  • Fluid from blisters
  • Stool

Risk Factors

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:

  • Fever
  • Eating or drinking less than usual
  • Sore throat
  • Painful sores in the mouth
  • Drooling
  • 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


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Canadian Pediatric Society
Public Health Agency of Canada


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:
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Accessed March 8, 2021.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD

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