Infectious Diseases Data Verified

Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease (HFMD)

Published on May 28, 2019 and last reviewed on Jan 04, 2022   -  3 min read


Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious viral infection, which commonly affects children under 5 years of age. Coxsackievirus, which belongs to the Enterovirus genus, is the virus that is responsible for most cases of HFMD.

Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease (HFMD)

What Is Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease?

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a highly contagious viral infection, which commonly affects children under 5 years of age. Coxsackievirus, which belongs to the Enterovirus genus, is the virus that is responsible for most cases of HFMD. It is highly contagious and can be spread through direct contact from person-to-person. This disease is characterized by blisters and sores on the hands, feet, and mouth.

Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease

image source: wjla

What Are the Symptoms Associated with Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease?

The symptoms usually develop 3 to 7 days after the person gets infected with the virus. Some of the symptoms seen are:

Fever is usually the first sign of this disease, which is followed by sore throat, poor appetite, and malaise. The other disease that can cause fever with sores in the throat and back of the mouth in children is herpangina, which is also caused by coxsackievirus.

What Causes Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease?

HFMD is mainly caused by the viruses Coxsackievirus A16 and Enterovirus 71. But, other strains of coxsackievirus and enterovirus can also cause this disease.

How Is Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease Spread?

The virus spreads by direct contact with an infected person and oral ingestion of infected food or water. It also spreads if you come in contact with an infected person’s:

The infected child is most contagious during the first week of the illness, but can still infect others for weeks after the symptoms are gone. Infected adults can pass this infection even without showing any symptoms. This disease is more common in summer and autumn.

What Are the Risk Factors for Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease?

Children under 5 years of age, and who go to daycare centers and playschool are more susceptible to get infected with this virus. This is because of frequent diaper changes and the child’s habit of putting their hands in the mouth. As the child grows old, they develop immunity to this disease, as they develop antibodies against this virus after getting infected the first time. It is rarely seen in adolescents and adults.

How Is Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease Diagnosed?

The doctor might diagnose this condition by examining the rashes and blisters on the mouth and body, and by enquiring about other symptoms. If needed, he or she might take a throat swab or stool sample, which will be tested for the presence of the virus.

What Are the Complications of Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease?

It is usually a minor illness, but in rare cases, it can cause complications like:

  1. Dehydration - most common complication.

  2. Viral meningitis - inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

  3. Encephalitis - inflammation of the brain.

How Is Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease Treated?

As such, there is no specific treatment for HFMD. The signs and symptoms of this disease usually resolve in 7 to 10 days.

For pain relief, topical anesthetic gels can be applied on the sores and blisters, and Paracetamol can be taken to reduce fever.

No antibiotics are required to treat hand-foot-and-mouth disease, but if the child develops secondary infection, then the doctor might consider giving antibiotics.

What Are the Home Remedies for Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease?

The following are some tips that can help relieve pain:

How Can Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease Be Prevented?

There is no vaccine available to prevent this disease, but certain precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk are:

The symptoms like fever and blisters usually clear up within a week. But if the symptoms persist even after a week and if you start experiencing any complications, then please consult a physician online. HFMD rarely causes a medical emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Long Is a Person Contagious With Hand Foot and Mouth Disease?

Patients who are affected with hand foot and mouth disease have the possibility of being very contagious throughout the incubation period. The incubation period is from three to six days. It is advised that individuals should stay isolated during this period.


Can Kids Go to School With Hand Foot and Mouth Disease?

If the children are not feeling better, you should keep them away from school it is also necessary for the adults to stay away from their workplace if they are suspected of having hand foot and mouth disease. This will prevent the spreading of infection from one person to another.


How Do You Get Rid of Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Home Fast?

- Eat ice cream or drink sherbet.
- Suck on the ice pops and ice chips.
- Drink icy beverages, such as ice water.
- Avoid foods that are rich in citrus content.
- Avoid salty and spicy foods.
- Eat very soft foods that do not require too much chewing.


Is Hand Foot and Mouth Painful?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease become very painful because of the blisters occurring in the mouth, hands, fingers, toes, and feet. If the lesion occurs in the tongue, then it might be difficult for the patient to have healthy food. In case of severe pain, ask your doctor to suggest medications for you.


How Is the Disease Transmitted?

Hand foot and mouth disease spread due to poor hygiene. It can be transmitted through saliva from the infected patient to a healthy person. Handwashing techniques should be followed in order to prevent such diseases.


Can You Get HFMD Twice?

There are possibilities of getting hand, foot, and mouth disease again and again if proper sanitation is not followed. Kids who are under the age of five years are affected more. So, there are chances for the disease to reoccur if the kids are too playful with others in a social gathering.


Does HFMD Leave Scars?

The lesions are usually found on the dorsal surface of the hands and feet. It does not cause any scar in most cases. The wound peels off by itself, leaving no scar. With the recent advancement of medicine present also it can be easily treated.


Is Vomiting a Symptom Of HFMD?

In some children, there might be diarrhea and vomiting. You should take proper care of your kids when they are suffering from hand foot and mouth disease. Homemade food when they are suffering from this condition. They should be allowed to have more rest and sleep.


Are Baths Good for Hand Foot and Mouth?

Adding Epsom salt to bathing water can help to improve the rashes on the skin by removing the toxins. Regularly gargle your mouth with warm saltwater. Coconut oil has got many medicinal properties then antiviral agent so that it can be applied directly to your skin.


Can HFMD Spread Through the Air?

Hand foot and mouth disease does not get transmitted through the air. But it can affect a healthy person why direct contact with them. Not share objects with an infected person. The patient should use separate glasses for drinking water and plates for eating food. The clothes used by them should be cleaned well.

Last reviewed at:
04 Jan 2022  -  3 min read




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