Hand, Foot and Mouth


Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFM) is a common contagious illness caused by viruses from the enterovirus family, most commonly the coxsackievirus.

Infections are common in childcare centers, preschools, and other places where kids are in close quarters. The illness typically lasts 3-5 days.


Signs and Symptoms

HFM causes painful blisters in the throat, and on the tongue, gums, hard palate, or inside the cheeks. Blisters are red with a small bubble of fluid on top. They often peel, leaving an ulcer, which is a sore with a reddish base. The soles of the feet and the palms of the hands may have a rash that can look like flat red spots or red blisters.

A child with HFM also might:

  • Have a fever, muscle aches, or other flu-like symptoms
  • Become irritable or sleep more than usual
  • Begin drooling (due to painful swallowing)
  • Only want to drink cold fluids


Should I call the doctor?

Doctor can check your baby/child and confirm that it is HFM. He/she can also offer some advice on how to care for your child.

Take your child back to the doctor if the fever reaches higher than 38 degrees if your child is under three months, or higher than 39 degrees if under six months. The doctor should also check the child if the fever doesn’t improve after two days.




Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be given to help a child who is achy or irritable, or to ease painful mouth sores or discomfort from fever.

Kids with blisters on their hands or feet should keep the areas clean and uncovered.

Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. Call your doctor if your child remains very irritable, can’t be comforted, is sluggish, or seems to be getting worse.

Preventing the Spread

There is no vaccine to prevent HFM disease or other similar infections.

HFM is contagious and can spread through contact with saliva, mucus from the nose, or fluid from the blisters.


Keep children home from school while they have a fever or open blisters on the skin.

Hand washing is the best protection. Remind everyone in your family to wash their hands often, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper, and before preparing or eating food.

Shared toys in childcare centers should be cleaned often with a disinfectant because many viruses can live on objects for a few days.


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