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Hand-foot-mouth disease

Coxsackievirus infection; HFM disease

Hand-foot-mouth disease is a common viral infection that most often begins in the throat.

Images

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease on the soles
Hand, foot, and mouth disease on the hand
Hand, foot, and mouth disease on the foot
Hand, foot, and mouth disease - mouth
Hand, foot, and mouth disease on the foot

Causes

Hand-foot-mouth disease (HFMD) is most commonly caused by a virus called coxsackievirus A16.

Children under age 10 are most often affected. Teens and adults can sometimes get the infection. HFMD usually occurs in the summer and early fall.

The virus can spread from person-to-person through tiny, air droplets that are released when the sick person sneezes, coughs, or blows their nose. You can catch hand-foot-mouth disease if:

The virus is most easily spread the first week a person has the disease.

Symptoms

The time between contact with the virus and the start of symptoms is about 3 to 7 days. Symptoms include:

Exams and Tests

The health care provider will perform a physical exam. Usually, a diagnosis can be made from asking about the symptoms and the rash on the hands and feet.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for the infection other than symptom relief.

Antibiotics do not work because the infection is caused by a virus. (Antibiotics treat infections caused by bacteria, not viruses.) To relieve symptoms, the following home care can be used:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Complete recovery occurs in 5 to 7 days.

Possible Complications

Possible complications that may result from HFMD include:

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if there are signs of complications, such as pain in the neck or arms and legs. Emergency symptoms include convulsions.

You should also call if:

Prevention

Avoid contact with people with HFMD. Wash your hands well and often, especially if you are in contact with people who are sick. Also teach children to wash their hands well and often.

Related Information

Rashes
Vesicles
Seizures
Fever
Febrile seizures

References

Dinulos JGH. Exanthems and drug eruptions. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 14.

Messacar K, Abzug MJ. Nonpolio enteroviruses. In: Kliegman RM, St Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 277.

Romero JR. Coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and numbered enteroviruses (EV-A71, EVD-68, EVD-70). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 172.

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Review Date: 7/11/2019  

Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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