About Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus group, but is most commonly caused by Coxsackievirus. It may cause fever, sore throat, painful sores in the mouth, and blisters on the palms of hands and soles of feet. For most people, HFMD resolves on its own and requires only self-care.

How is it transmitted?

HFMD is spread through close personal contact, coughing or sneezing, fecal-oral route, or contact with contaminated objects. Transmission can occur by coming into contact with the virus, and then touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs of HFMD may include fever, sore throat, oral ulcers, oral blisters, or blisters on the palms of the hand, soles of feet, knees, elbows, or buttocks. Not everyone will get all of these symptoms. Some people, especially adults, may show no symptoms at all, but they can still pass the virus to others.


Most cases of hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) are mild and get better on their own, even without treatment. Self-care treatment options include:

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Use mouthwashes or sprays that numb mouth pain
  • Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
  • Practice good hygiene

You should see a healthcare provider if your symptoms include:

  • fever
  • moderate to severe pain
  • sensitivity to light
  • intense redness
  • symptoms that worsen or do not improve after 3 days

If you suspect you have HFMD or have been in close contact with someone who has HFMD, call Student Health Service 215-746-3535 and press option 3 to talk with a nurse about your symptoms.


 There are no vaccines to protect against hand, foot, and mouth disease specifically. A person can lower their risk of being infected by cleaning and disinfecting frequently touches surfaces and practicing good hand hygiene.

Practice good hand hygiene by:

  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol
  • Wash your hands before and after you touch or rub your eyes

 Practice good self-care:

  • Gently wipe any discharge from your eye using disposable tissues
  • Use warm or cold-water soaked paper towels on your eyes  (separate one for each eye) to reduce discomfort and then dispose of the towel after use
  • Use lubricating eye drops (artificial tears) as often as you like
  • Clean your glasses and dispose of, or wash, the towels you used to clean them
  • Dental, nursing, medical, and social work students, as well as student teachers, should discuss this infection with your supervisor

Avoid sharing:

  • Towels, blankets, pillowcases, toothbrushes, eye drops, contact lenses and contact containers with friends, roommates, or partners



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(updated 10/21/2015)