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Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


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




  • 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.
  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/index.html.


  • Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.