Hand Foot & Mouth Disease

 Hand Foot & Mouth Disease


As we are approaching the cold and flu season, there are other viral illnesses which can also occur, such as Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD).  HFMD is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children, but can sometimes occur in adults.  It is characterized by fever, sores in the mouth and a rash with blisters.



The first symptoms of HFMD usually start 3-5 days after exposure to the virus and include:

  • Fever

  • Reduced appetite

  • Sore throat

  • A feeling of being unwell

  • 1-2 days after the fever starts, painful sores can develop in the mouth and a skin rash with red spots of blisters may develop in the palms of hands and the soles of feet.

If your child is exhibiting these symptoms, please contact your health care provider for evaluation and advice on when you should return to school.



The viruses that cause HFMD can be found in an infected person’s:

  • Nose and throat secretions

  • Blister fluid

  • Feces

An infected person may spread the virus to another person through:

  • Close personal contact

  • The air (through coughing and sneezing)

  • Contact with feces and/or contaminated surfaces


There is no specific treatment for HFMD since it is a virus, but you may try this to relieve symptoms:

  • Taking over-the-counter medications to relieve pain and fever

  • For children age 6 and over: have your child swish 1 teaspoon of liquid antacid (Mylanta) in his/her mouth for several minutes.  For children age one and over, dab a ½ teaspoon of liquid antacid with Q-tip on the mouth blisters after meals.

  • Offer a soft, bland diet to reduce the pain.  Avoid salty foods, citrus fruits, and spicy foods.  Encourage fluids – cold drinks, milk shakes, popsicles, and sherbet.


You can lower your risk of being infected by:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water.

  • Disinfecting dirty surfaces and soiled linen items.

  • Avoiding close contact with infected people.


A child can return to school after the fever is gone.  Generally this is 2-3 days.


This fact sheet is to provide general information.  Please contact your health care provider for specific information or if you have questions.