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Signs & Symptoms

Mother holding baby's foot

Español: Signos y síntomas de la enfermedad de manos, pies y boca

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in older children and adults. It usually starts with

  • A fever
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sore throat
  • A feeling of being unwell (malaise)

One or two days after the fever starts, painful sores can develop in the mouth (herpangina). They usually begin as small red spots, often in the back of the mouth, that blister and can become painful.

A skin rash on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet may also develop over one or two days as flat, red spots, sometimes with blisters. It may also appear on the knees, elbows, buttocks or genital area.

Some people, especially young children, may get dehydrated if they are not able to swallow enough liquids because of painful mouth sores. You should seek medical care in these cases.

Not everyone will get all of these symptoms. Some people, especially adults, may become infected and show no symptoms at all, but they can still pass the virus to others.

Most people who get hand, foot, and mouth disease will have mild illness or no symptoms at all. But a small proportion of cases can be more severe.