Symptoms and Signs of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 10/7/2022

Doctor's Notes on Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that most often occurs in the spring and fall and is most frequently seen in young children, infants, and toddlers.

Initial symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include 

  • fever and
  • general malaise (poor appetite, aches and pains, etc.).

These symptoms last about one to two days before a blister-like rash develops on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and in the mouth. The blisters may develop on the gums, inner cheeks, and tongue, and may cause mouth pain and a sore throat. Patients often drool and avoid swallowing and may refuse to drink or eat because of the discomfort. Very young infants may become dehydrated due to the refusal to drink.

What is the treatment for Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease?

Most doctors agree that no specific treatments for hand, foot and mouth disease exist. Most patients resolve the disease in 7 – 10 days. Supportive care may include the following:

  • Topical oral anesthetic for painful mouth sores
  • Over-the-counter medications like Tylenol or Motrin for discomfort and hydrocortisone if itching develops.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.