Hand Foot and Mouth (HFM) Disease

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Hand foot and mouth (HFM) disease facts

  • Hand foot and mouth disease is a viral disease.
  • Hand foot and mouth disease produces a rash on the hands, feet, and in the mouth.
  • Hand foot and mouth disease often occurs in the spring and fall.
  • Hand foot and mouth disease is common in children, particularly preschoolers.
  • Hand foot and mouth disease usually is mild and over within a week. Treatment is directly toward relief of symptoms (fever and sore throat).

What is hand foot and mouth (HFM) disease?

Hand foot and mouth disease (HFM) is a viral infection characterized by fever and a typical rash most frequently seen on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and inside the mouth. It should not be confused with foot (hoof) and mouth disease that affects cattle, sheep, and swine.

What are the symptoms and signs of hand foot and mouth disease?

HFM is most commonly an illness of the spring and fall seasons. Initial symptoms of mild fever (101 F-102 F) and malaise are followed within one or two days by a characteristic rash. Small (2 mm-3 mm) red spots that quickly develop into small blisters (vesicles) appear on the palms, soles, and oral cavity. The gums, tongue, and inner cheek are most commonly involved in the mouth. The foot lesions may also involve the lower calf region and rarely may appear on the buttocks. Oral lesions are commonly associated with a sore throat, difficulty eating and diminished appetite.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/11/2014

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Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Symptoms

The symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease are typically mild and occur mainly in children during the spring and fall seasons. Hand, foot, and mouth disease symptoms and signs can include the following:

  • Fever
  • Malaise
  • Decreased appetite
  • Sore throat

Some patients may experience the following related hand, foot, and mouth disease symptoms and signs

  • Rash
  • Red bumps and blisters
  • Sores inside the mouth
Picture of lesions in the mouth, a common characteristic of hand, foot and mouth disease