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Understanding Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD): Symptoms & Causes

Home > Blogs > Understanding Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD): Symptoms & Causes

Understanding Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD): Symptoms & Causes

Paediatrics | by Dr. Saugata Acharya | Published on 10/04/2024


If you notice that your child is feeling unwell or has a sore throat, fever, and blister-like lesions, then you should book an appointment with top neonatologist in Kolkata at the Calcutta Medical Research Institute. They have the most experienced and highly skilled professionals here who ensure proper diagnosis with the right treatment solutions. We recommend this as these signs are an indication of hand, foot, and mouth disease, one of the most common illnesses in young children and infants. However, this condition improves on its own and doesn’t require treatment, so it is important to keep in mind the condition's severity.

For your improved understanding, we will discuss this topic in this blog, so read it till the end. However, please note that this write-up is for informative purposes only and we don’t interfere with the doctor’s consultation in any way. 

What is hand, foot & mouth disease (HFMD)? 

Hand, foot, & mouth illness is identified to be among the most infectious diseases brought on by a virus. This condition has received its name from a blister resembling a rash on the child’s hands and feet. They are painful and cause soreness in their mouth. The rashes can occur in any part of the body such as arms, legs, genitals, back, buttocks, and chest. As per a study, children who are below five are more vulnerable to this disease. This disease transmits very fast among children who are in schools and daycare. However, it doesn’t mean that older children and adults are not vulnerable to it. There is a probability of occurring this disease many times as well. HFMD usually is mild and goes away on its own within ten days.

What are the symptoms of hand, foot, & mouth disease? 

Hand, foot, & mouth symptoms lead to growing different symptoms or all of the following symptoms in some children. Here are some of these symptoms: 

  • Feeling unwell or extremely sick 
  • Soreness in the throat 
  • Fever 
  • Blister-like lesions that are painful on the tongue, gums, and cheeks inside the mouth
  • Rashes on the palms, soles, and buttocks as well. However, these rashes don’t cause itchiness, but some might experience blisters. They are red, gray, white, or appear like tiny bumps. 
  • Appetite loss 
  • Fussiness 

What are the causes of hand, foot, & mouth disease? 

Coxsackievirus 16 is one of the primary causes of hand, foot, and mouth disease. This virus pertains to a bunch of viruses referred to as nonpolio enteroviruses. This infection is usually caught through the mouth often and transmitted to an infected individual by person-to-person touch. Here are some causes indicating how HFMD spreads: 

  • Blisters fluid ‘
  • Stools 
  • Throat discharge 
  • Nose secretions 
  • Respiratory droplets drizzle into the air if an infected person sneezes or coughs

How is hand, foot, & mouth disease diagnosed? 

The healthcare provider will decide on diagnosing hand, foot, & mouth disease by understanding the causes, and types of viral infection by assessing:

  • The age of a child 
  • Child’s symptoms 
  • Appearance of rashes or soreness 

The paediatrics doctor will also involve taking a swab from the throat or a specimen from stools. The healthcare provider will evaluate the results by sending them to the lab and identify the type of virus causing this disease. 

What are the options available for hand, foot & mouth treatment? 

Here are some of the options involved for hand, foot, & mouth treatment depending on the symptoms, causes, and types of virus: 

  • Pain relief: Ibuprofen or acetaminophen, two over-the-counter pain relievers, can help ease the discomfort brought on by fever and sore throat.
  • Oral hygiene: Mouth sores can be relieved and healed by gargling with warm salt water or by using over-the-counter mouth rinses.
  • Hydration: Promoting a sufficient intake of fluids, such as electrolyte solutions, water, and calming drinks like ice pops or cold milk, helps guard against dehydration.
  • Rest: For the body to combat the virus and aid in healing, it must get enough sleep.
  • Reducing irritants: Reducing the amount of acidic or spicy food and drink in your diet can help stop mouth sores from getting worse. 


Hand, foot, & mouth are among the common diseases significantly affecting young children and infants. However, it can happen to any person of any age group. Most HFMD cases settle on their own within seven days or two with the right care at home that includes oral hygiene methods, pain relief, rest, hydration, and irritant avoidance. However, there is a probability of some complications like dehydration or secondary infections in certain cases requiring prompt clinical attention. Maintaining proper hygiene, which includes frequently washing your hands, can help stop the spread of HFMD. To manage this infectious disease, early detection, supportive care, and preventive measures are crucial.


Can adults get hand, foot, & mouth disease from children?

Yes, adults can certainly contract hand, foot, and mouth disease from children because the virus can be transferred by close contact with respiratory secretions, feces, or saliva from infected people.

Are hand, foot, and mouth occur due to poor hygiene?

Because hand, foot, and mouth disease is primarily caused by viruses like Coxsackievirus and Enterovirus, which are spread through close contact, it can occur regardless of hygiene levels.