Coxsackievirus infection; HFM disease
Hand-foot-mouth disease is a common viral infection that most often begins in the throat.
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.
The time between contact with the virus and the start of symptoms is about 3 to 7 days. Symptoms include:
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.
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:
Complete recovery occurs in 5 to 7 days.
Possible complications that may result from HFMD include:
Contact 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:
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.
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.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 7/19/2021
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.
Health Content Provider
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2023 A.D.A.M., a business unit of Ebix, Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.