URL path: Index page // Blog // Pediatrics // Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a viral illness commonly affecting infants and children, although it can also occur in adults. The disease is usually caused by enteroviruses, most commonly the Coxsackievirus A16. Other enteroviruses, such as enterovirus 71, can also be responsible for HFMD.

Causes: The most common cause of HFMD is the Coxsackievirus A16, but other enteroviruses can also be responsible. The virus is highly contagious and spreads through person-to-person contact. It can be transmitted through respiratory droplets, contact with feces, or by touching contaminated surfaces.


  • Fever: HFMD often begins with a fever, usually lasting 1-2 days.
  • Sore throat: A sore throat is a common early symptom.
  • Blister-like rash: Small, red spots that can turn into painful blister-like sores appear on the hands, feet, and sometimes the buttocks.
  • Mouth sores: Painful sores or ulcers can develop inside the mouth, on the tongue, gums, and inside the cheeks.

Incubation Period: The incubation period for HFMD is usually 3-6 days after exposure to the virus.

Contagious Period: HFMD is most contagious during the first week of illness. The virus can continue to be shed in the stool for several weeks.

Diagnosis: HFMD is typically diagnosed based on the characteristic symptoms. Laboratory tests may be performed to confirm the presence of the virus.

Treatment: There is no specific antiviral treatment for HFMD. The illness is usually self-limiting, and supportive care can manage symptoms. This includes maintaining hydration, managing fever with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, and providing pain relief for mouth sores.

Prevention: Preventive measures include practicing good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, avoiding close contact with infected individuals, and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces.

Complications: Complications are rare but can include viral meningitis or encephalitis. In severe cases, complications may lead to hospitalization.

Special Considerations: Pregnant women and individuals with weakened immune systems may be at a higher risk of complications and should seek medical attention promptly if they suspect they have HFMD.

It's important to note that while HFMD is more common in children, adults can also contract the virus. Most cases resolve on their own without specific medical intervention.

Share it