For more information, call: 573-331-3000

A-Z Health Topics

Return to Index
by McCoy K

Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

(Vesicular Stomatitis With Exanthem)


Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common illness in infants and children. It is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth, and a rash on the hands and feet. It occurs in warmer months. It is transmitted primarily between humans by direct contact with secretions from the nose and throat, saliva, fluid from blisters, or the feces of those who have HFMD.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
si55551451 97871 1 handfootmouth
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


HFMD is caused by a virus from a group of viruses called enteroviruses.

Risk Factors

HFMD is more common in chlidren under 10 years of age.
Contact with someone who is infected with HFMD increases your risk of getting HFMD.


  • Mild fever
  • Poor appetite
  • Discomfort
  • Sore throat
  • Painful sores in the mouth
  • Skin rash that does not itch, usually on the palms of hands and soles of feet


You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids and waste products may need to be tested. This can be done with:
  • Throat swab
  • Stool specimen


There is no specific treatment for HFMD. Treatment is focused on relieving fever, aches, and pain associated with the illness. Medications may be given to help relieve the pain related to the sores in the mouth.


To help reduce the risk of HFMD:
  • Wash your hands frequently, especially after diaper changes.
  • Clean contaminated surfaces with soap and water followed by a diluted solution of chlorine-containing bleach. (Mix about one-fourth cup of bleach with one-gallon water.)
  • Avoid close contact with children with HFMD.


National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Canadian Pediatric Society
Public Health Agency of Canada


Hand-foot-and-mouth disease. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated August 3, 2014. Accessed November 3, 2014.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated August 19, 2013. Accessed November 3, 2014.
6/24/2014 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance Fang Y, Wang S, et al. Risk factors of severe hand, foot and mouth disease: A meta-analysis. Scand J Infect Dis. 2014;46(7):515-522.

Revision Information