Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection most commonly caused by a strain of Coxsackie virus, but also caused by a strain of Enterovirus. It causes a blister-like rash on your hands, feet and mouth. The illness is typically mild and complications are rare.

While the infection usually occurs in children 10 or younger, young adults are also at risk.

It is not known if infection with hand, foot and mouth disease during pregnancy can harm the fetus. Pregnant women should contact their obstetrician for more information.


Symptoms usually appear three to five days after exposure and include:

  • Fever
  • Poor appetite
  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • A blister-like rash on the hands, feet and mouth (usually develops one to two days after other symptoms)

Once infected, you are contagious when symptoms first appear. You are no longer contagious when your blisters clear, but the virus can be present in the stool for several weeks.


Hand, foot and mouth disease is spread by nose and throat discharges or the stool of infected people.

Wash hands thoroughly, especially after changing diapers.

Prior infection with the virus may give you some immunity, but you can still get a second episode of the infection.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A health care provider may suspect infection if you have a fever and a blister-like rash on your hands, feet or mouth. Tests to confirm diagnosis are unnecessary and rarely done.

There is no specific treatment for the virus. It is recommended you drink plenty of fluids and treat a fever.

Children who are infected with the virus should not go to daycare until their fever is gone, their blisters have cleared, and they feel well.