Overview Of Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is a common viral infection that most often begins in the throat.
Causes Of Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease
Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) is most commonly caused by a virus called coxsackievirus A16.
Children under age 10 are most often affected. Teens and adults can sometimes get the infection. HFMD usually occurs in the summer and early fall.
The virus can spread from person to person through tiny, air droplets that are released when the sick person sneezes, coughs or blows their nose.
You can catch hand-foot-and-mouth disease if:
- A person with the infection sneezes, coughs, or blows their nose near you.
- You touch your nose, eyes, or mouth after you have touched something contaminated by the virus, such as a toy or doorknob.
- You touch stools or fluid from the blisters of an infected person.
- The virus is most easily spread the first week a person has the disease.
The time between contact with the virus and the start of symptoms is about 3 to 7 days.
Symptoms of HFMD include:
- Loss of appetite
- Rash with very small blisters on the hands, feet, and diaper area that may be tender or painful when pressed
- Sore throat
- Ulcers in the throat (including tonsils), mouth, and tongue
Exams & Tests
The health care provider will perform a physical exam. Usually, a diagnosis can be made from asking about the symptoms and the rash on the hands and feet.
Treatment Of Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease
There is no specific treatment for the infection other than symptom relief.
Antibiotics do not work because the infection is caused by a virus. (Antibiotics treat infections caused by bacteria, not viruses.) To relieve symptoms of HFMD, the following home care can be used:
Saltwater mouth rinses (1/2 teaspoon, or 6 grams, of salt to 1 glass of warm water) may be soothing.
Drink plenty of fluids. The best fluids are cold milk products. Do not drink juice or soda because their acid content causes burning pain in the ulcers.