What is hand-foot-mouth disease?
Hand-foot-mouth disease is a common viral illness that affects infants and children, often appearing as a rash of small, blister-like bumps in the hands, feet, and mouth.
- Hand-foot-mouth disease is caused by the coxsackie virus.
- It's very common in children under the age of 10.
- Hand-foot-mouth disease is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease, which affects cattle, sheep, and pigs. However, the two diseases are not related.
- The disease is seen most often in the summer and fall.
- Good hand washing helps prevent the spread of the disease.
- Lots of fluids and acetaminophen helps reduce severity of the symptoms.
How Boston Children's Hospital approaches hand-foot-mouth disease
The Children's Hospital Informatics Program created HealthMap, an online resource and smart phone application that helps track the spread of contagious diseases, including hand-foot-mouth disease, in real time.
Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease | Symptoms & Causes
What causes hand-foot-mouth disease?
Hand-foot-mouth disease is most often caused by the coxsackie virus. The virus is contagious and can be caught by contact with bodily fluids or stools of an infected person. You're most contagious the first week you have the disease. Good hand washing is necessary to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Is hand-foot-mouth disease common?
This disease is very common in children under the age of 10. It's seen most often in the summer and fall.
What are the symptoms of hand-foot-mouth disease?
While symptoms may vary child-to-child, the most common include:
- blister-like bumps in the mouth (on the tongue or the cheeks, and near the throat and tonsils)
- blister-like bumps on the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet; bumps may also be seen on the arms, legs, and diaper area
- mild fever
Can you prevent hand-foot-mouth disease
Yes. Proper hand washing is essential in helping to prevent the disease from being spread to other children.
Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease | Diagnosis & Treatments
How does a doctor diagnose hand-foot-mouth disease?
The rash of hand-foot-mouth disease is unique, which usually allows for a diagnosis simply on a physical exam.
How do we treat hand-foot-mouth disease?
Since a virus causes hand-foot-mouth disease, antibiotics are not effective and the disease simply needs to run its course. The best thing you can do is to help reduce the severity of the symptoms. This can include:
- increasing fluid intake to prevent dehydration; provide cool, iced fluids in small amounts frequently
- acetaminophen for fever