Definition

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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Causes

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

Risk Factors

HFMD is more common in chlidren under 10 years of age.

Contact with someone who is infected with HFMD increases your risk of getting HFMD.

Symptoms

  • 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

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Your bodily fluids and waste products may need to be tested. This can be done with:

  • Throat swab
  • Stool specimen

Treatment

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

Prevention

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.