Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common viral illness. It usually affects infants and children but can affect adults as well. This usually presents in the summer and early autumn. Outbreaks typically occur in dense areas, such as schools, camps, hospitals and spread within families.


Hand, foot and mouth disease usually is due to Coxsackievirus A16. This virus is usually transmitted by fecal-oral route, respiratory and oral secretions. The typical incubation period is 3-5 days.


Those affected present with painful oral lesions on the tongue or inside of the mouth and a rash that most commonly affects the hand, feet. The buttocks and genitals may also be affected but less commonly. Fever may be present as well.

Complete resolution of symptoms occurs around 7-10 days.


The diagnosis is made based on the history and physical exam. Labs are not necessary in patients with hand, foot, and mouth disease.


Treatment is aimed at improving symptoms. Over the counter pain and fever reducers may be used for fever or pain. Antivirals are not typically given. Hydration is recommended.

If someone is unable to properly hydrate or they develop complications such as paralysis, meningitis, encephalitis or myocarditis then hospitalization is required.


Hand hygiene is the mainstay or prevention for hand, foot and mouth disease. Surfaces that come in contact with bodily fluids should be cleaned and disinfected.