Hand Foot and Mouth Disease



HFMD is caused by an enterovirus. It spreads easily from person to person through contact with an infected person's:

  • Mucus
  • Sputum
  • Fluid from blisters
  • Stool

Risk Factors

HFMD is more common in children under 10 years of age. Contact with an infected person raises the risk of infection.



Problems may be:

  • Fever
  • Eating or drinking less than usual
  • Sore throat
  • Painful sores in the mouth
  • Drooling
  • A skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

If the diagnosis is not clear, a throat swab or stool sample may be taken to find the virus causing the infection.



Most people get better on their own in 7 to 10 days. The goal is to manage symptoms and promote healing. Choices are:

  • Over the counter pain relievers
  • Drinking plenty of fluids


The risk of viral infection may be lowered by:

  • Practicing proper handwashing
  • Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Not touching the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.