Skip to content

    Children's Health

    Select An Article
    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Topic Overview

    What is hand-foot-and-mouth disease?

    Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is an illness that causes sores in or on the mouth and on the hands, feet, and sometimes the buttocks and legs. The sores may be painful. The illness usually doesn't last more than a week or so.

    Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is common in children but can also occur in adults. It can occur at any time of year but is most common in the summer and fall.

    Recommended Related to Children

    Top Children's Health and Parenting Stories of 2007: Readers' Choice

    Children's cold drugs made the list. So did lead poisoning, smart babies, and brain foods for kids. Here is the full list of the top 10 most viewed children's health and parenting stories on WebMD for 2007. Kids and Crocs Shoes: Trendy or Risky? 10 Rules for Baby-Proofing Your Marriage 10 Ways to Raise a Spoiled Child Lead Poisoning and Kids The 5 Hardest Things About Being a Mom How to Raise a Smart Baby 1...

    Read the Top Children's Health and Parenting Stories of 2007: Readers' Choice article > >

    It is not the same as other diseases that have similar names: foot-and-mouth disease (sometimes called hoof-and-mouth disease) or mad cow disease. These diseases almost always occur in animals.

    What causes hand-foot-and-mouth disease?

    Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is caused by a virus called an enterovirus.

    The virus spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. It can also spread through infected stool, such as when you change a diaper or when a young child gets stool on his or her hands and then touches objects that other children put in their mouths. Often the disease breaks out within a community.

    It usually takes 3 to 6 days for a person to get symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease after being exposed to the virus. This is called the incubation period.

    What are the symptoms?

    At first your child may feel tired, get a sore throat, or have a fever of around 101°F (38°C) to 103°F (39°C). Then in a day or two, sores or blisters may appear in or on the mouth and on the hands, feet, and sometimes the buttocks. In some cases a skin rash may appear before the blisters do. The blisters may break open and crust over.

    The sores and blisters usually go away in a week or so.

    In some cases there are no symptoms, or they are very mild. Parents may get the disease from their children and not even realize it.

    How is hand-foot-and-mouth disease diagnosed?

    A doctor can tell if your child has hand-foot-and-mouth disease by the symptoms you describe and by looking at the sores and blisters. Tests usually aren't needed.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
     
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.
     

    worried kid
    fitArticle
    jennifer aniston
    Slideshow
     
    Measles virus
    Article
    sick child
    Slideshow
     

    babyapp
    New
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow
     
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
    Child Coughing or Sneezing into Elbow
    Article