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.

Quick GuideCommon Childhood Skin Disorders

Common Childhood Skin Disorders

How does hand, foot, and mouth disease affect pregnancy and the baby?

Commonly, HFMD is an illness of children less than 10 years of age; adults generally were exposed during childhood and maintain a natural immunity. Information regarding fetal exposure to HFMD during pregnancy is limited. No solid evidence exists that maternal enterovirus infection is associated with complications such as spontaneous abortion or congenital defects. However, should a baby be born to a mother with active HFMD symptoms and signs, the risk of neonatal infection is high. While such newborns often have a mild illness, a newborn infant may develop an overwhelming infection involving vital organs such as liver, heart, and brain, which could be fatal.

When can children with hand, foot, and mouth disease return to school?

Children may return to school once without fever for 24 hours (usually day three or four of the disease).

What is the prognosis of hand, foot, and mouth disease?

The prognosis for routine HFMD is excellent. A patient's symptoms are bothersome but not debilitating. Medications designed to reduce fever and/or pain relievers are helpful, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin). Young children often find that cool/soft foods (ice cream, smoothies, etc.) provide some pain relief and are psychologically helpful as "special treats." An individual assessment is required for those unique individuals who develop complications (such as meningitis). As would be anticipated, those with an immunocompromised status are more likely to develop either a more serious infection or an illness of a more intense nature than those with a normally functioning immune system.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/23/2017

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