Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

  • Medical Author:
    John Mersch, MD, FAAP

    Dr. Mersch received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego, and prior to entering the University Of Southern California School Of Medicine, was a graduate student (attaining PhD candidate status) in Experimental Pathology at USC. He attended internship and residency at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Childhood Illnesses You Should Know Slideshow

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 Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease

Quick GuideCommon Childhood Skin Disorders

Common Childhood Skin Disorders

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) facts

  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection.
  • Hand, foot, and mouth disease produces a characteristic 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 (HFMD) disease?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) 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 causes hand, foot, and mouth disease?

HFMD is caused by several members of the enterovirus family of viruses. The most common cause is Coxsackievirus A16; less frequently enterovirus 71 is the infectious agent. The clinical manifestations of routine HFMD are the same regardless of the responsible virus. However, patients infected with enterovirus 71 are more likely to experience rare complications (for example, viral meningitis or cardiac muscle involvement).

Picture of characteristic rash and blisters of hand, foot, and mouth disease
Picture of characteristic rash and blisters of hand, foot, and mouth disease
Picture of characteristic mouth sores of hand, foot, and mouth disease
Picture of characteristic mouth sores of hand, foot, and mouth disease
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/20/2016

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