Medical Definition of Hand-foot-and-mouth disease

  • Medical Author:
    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.

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease: A common viral illness usually seen in infants and children characterized by a rash on the hands and feet and in the mouth. The internal rash (enanthem) consists of blisters and little ulcers. These may involve not only the lining of the mouth but also the gums, palate, and tongue. The external rash on the body (exanthem) typically affects the hands, the feet, and sometimes the buttocks. There may also be sore throat, irritability, decreased appetite, and fever. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is caused by various viruses, including several types of coxsackievirus: most often Coxsackievirus A16, but also other coxsackieviruses and enterovirus 71. The incubation period is short, usually 4 to 6 days. The disease occurs most frequently in summer and fall. The illness is characteristically mild and self-limited. Also known as hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome and hand, foot, and mouth disease or syndrome.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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