Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common viral illness that mainly affects children under 5 years old, but can sometimes affect older children and adults. It is caused by infection with the coxsackievirus virus. This is not the same as foot-and-mouth disease, which affects farm animals.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is highly contagious. It’s especially common in childcare and kindergartens.
The main symptoms are fever and tiny blisters on the cheeks, gums and sides of the mouth and on the hands and feet. The blisters can also occur in the groin and elsewhere. Children may also have a sore throat.
There is no treatment to kill the virus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease. The blisters usually last for 7 to 10 days.
But it’s possible to improve comfort by treating the symptoms with paracetamol, rest and plenty to drink.
Should I keep my child home from school?
Here’s a list of common childhood illnesses, including hand, foot and mouth disease, and their recommended exclusion periods.
Last reviewed: November 2018