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 viral infection that tends to impact young children. The symptoms are mild and, as the name implies, affect the hands, feet and mouth with the development of skin blisters. The disease is contagious and can be passed from child to child.

What causes hand-foot-mouth disease? 
The viruses that usually cause hand-foot-mouth disease are known as coxsackievirus and enterovirus. Once a child gets it, it tends to spread through children who come in contact with him. It is common to see outbreaks in child care centers.

What are the symptoms of hand-foot-mouth disease?
The telltale sign of hand-foot-mouth disease is the blisters on the tongue, gums or cheeks. These can be painful. A rash is also common on the palms of the hands, the soles of the feet and sometimes the buttocks. Fever, sore throat,  irritability and loss of appetite are other symptoms of the illness.

What are hand-foot-mouth disease care options? 
Over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen and drying creams can help with the pain and other symptoms related to hand-foot-mouth disease. The illness typically goes away on its own within 7 to 10 days.

This illness needs to be distinguished from varicella (chickenpox) and impetigo caused by Staphylococcus.

Reviewed by: Otto M Ramos, MD

This page was last updated on: 7/26/2018 12:39:27 PM

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