Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease

Also known as: hand-foot-and-mouth disease, hand foot and mouth disease, hand, foot, and mouth disease, HFMD.

What is hand-foot-mouth disease?

Hand-foot-mouth disease is a mild, contagious viral infection common in young children, though complications (rarely) can occur. 

What causes hand-foot-mouth disease? 

The most common virus that causes hand-foot-mouth disease is known as coxsackievirus A16. It is usually contracted by oral ingestion (by mouth) and is spread by person to person contact from secretions from the nose/throat, saliva, droplets from infected children coughing or sneezing, from blister fluid or stool. Though the child is most contagious early (first week) the virus can remain in the body for many weeks long after symptoms are gone.
It is common to see outbreaks in child care centers because of frequent diaper changes, potty training and children putting things in their mouths.

What are the signs/symptoms of hand-foot-mouth disease? 

Symptoms include fever, sore throat, irritability, loss of appetite and the telltale sign of hand-foot-mouth disease; the painful blisters on the tongue, gums and inside the cheeks. A red rash (non-itchy) is also common on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet and sometimes the buttocks. Signs and symptoms usually resolve within 7-10 days.

What are hand-foot-mouth disease care options? 

While there is no specific treatment for HFMD, ensuring adequate fluid intake, topical oral anesthetics or over-the-counter pain relievers can help with the pain and other symptoms.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 11/27/2017 10:14:24 AM

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