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Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

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Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common illness in infants and children. It is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth, and a rash on the hands and feet. It occurs in warmer months. It is transmitted primarily between humans by direct contact with secretions from the nose and throat, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the feces of those who have HFMD.

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

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HFMD is caused by a virus from a group of viruses called enteroviruses.

Risk Factors

The following factors increase the risk of HFMD:

  • Contact with someone who is infected
  • Age: children under 10 years old

Factors that may affect the severity of infection may include:

  • Fever that lasts 3 days or longer
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Infection by specific enterovirus
  • Fever at 99.5°F or 37.5°C
  • High blood sugar
  • Home care


  • Mild fever
  • Poor appetite
  • Discomfort
  • Sore throat
  • Painful sores in the mouth
  • Skin rash that does not itch, usually on the palms of hands and soles of feet


Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your doctor may need samples of bodily tissues and waste products. This can be done with:

  • Throat swab
  • Stool specimen


There is no specific treatment for HFMD. Treatment is focused on relieving fever, aches, and pain associated with the illness. Medicines may be given to help relieve the pain related to the sores in the mouth.


To help reduce the risk of HFMD:

  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after diaper changes.
  • Clean contaminated surfaces with soap and water followed by a diluted solution of chlorine-containing bleach. (Mix about one-fourth cup of bleach with one-gallon water.)
  • Avoid close contact with children with HFMD.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 12/2013 -
  • Update Date: 06/24/2014 -
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

  • Canadian Pediatric Society

  • Public Health Agency of Canada

  • Hand-foot-and-mouth disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 13, 2012. Accessed January 2, 2013.

  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated May 29, 2012. Accessed January 2, 2012.

  • 6/24/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Fang Y, Wang S, et al. Risk factors of severe hand, foot and mouth disease: A meta-analysis. Scand J Infect Dis. 2014;46(7):515-522.