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Lahey Health is now part of Beth Israel Lahey Health

by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Vesicular Stomatitis With Exanthem)

Definition

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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Causes

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.

Symptoms

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

Diagnosis

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.

Treatment

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

Prevention

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

RESOURCES

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases  http://www.niaid.nih.gov 

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  http://www.cdc.gov 

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Pediatric Society  http://www.cps.ca 

Public Health Agency of Canada  http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca 

References

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.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2020
  • Update Date: 03/08/2021