Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a contagious viral illness most common in infants and young children. However, adults can also develop the illness if they have exposure to the virus.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) can produce the same symptoms in adults as in children, but adults are more likely than children to be asymptomatic.
This article discusses the symptoms and treatment of HFMD in adults.
According to the
The CDC notes that
The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AADA) states that most adults do not experience symptoms if they contract HFMD. Those who do will generally have benign symptoms.
Complications that require medical intervention occur very rarely.
HFMD symptoms in adults are the same as those in children.
The symptoms can
How long does HFMD last in adults?
According to the AADA, most of the signs and symptoms of HFMD clear within 7–10 days.
However, the CDC notes that people can spread the virus for
Enteroviruses cause HFMD. According to the CDC, the viruses that
- Coxsackievirus A16: This virus is the most common cause of HFMD in the United States.
- Coxsackievirus A6: People who contract this virus may experience more severe symptoms.
- Enterovirus 71 (EV-A71): This virus is the most common cause of HFMD in East and Southeast Asia.
A doctor will diagnose HFMD by performing a physical examination. This exam might involve the doctor:
- examining the rashes around a person’s mouth, feet, and hands
- asking the person about their symptoms
- taking a throat swab or stool sample to check for the presence of the virus
The doctor may also consider the person’s age. Children ages 5 years and younger are the most likely to have the disease. A person should tell a doctor if they have been in contact with a child with the virus.
According to the CDC, almost all cases of HFMD clear up within
However, a person can treat the symptoms of HFMD at home by:
- taking over-the-counter pain medicines (acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to help reduce pain and fever
- drinking plenty of water and other fluids to help prevent dehydration
- using a numbing mouthwash to alleviate the pain of mouth sores
- avoiding hot, spicy, or acidic foods
An adult may not need any treatment if they do not have any symptoms of the infection.
If a person has symptoms, these should go away with or without treatment within 7–10 days. Adults may wish to take a few days off of work if they have severe symptoms.
It is important to note that the virus can pass to others for
Preventive steps, including washing the hands frequently and avoiding close contact with others, can help stop the spread of HFMD.
People with no symptoms can also transmit the virus. However, asymptomatic adults will usually not realize that they have the infection, so they are likely to continue their lives as normal.
In most cases, the risk of complications from HFMD is low.
People who are pregnant should let a healthcare professional know if they have developed symptoms of HFMD or come in contact with someone with the virus.
A person can take steps to avoid becoming ill. Many of the prevention methods for HFMD are also good for preventing other illnesses, such as the common cold. Measures to reduce the risk of an infection include:
- washing the hands frequently and thoroughly
- avoiding close contact with people who have HFMD
- washing and disinfecting surfaces and high-touch items regularly
Although most adults with HFMD don’t experience symptoms, they may still be contagious and can spread the virus to others.
People can stay contagious for
Therefore, people with HFMD should not go to work and should isolate themselves at home to avoid spreading the disease.
An adult with HFMD may not need to speak with a doctor. However, if they experience fever, mouth sores, or sores on their hands or feet, they may wish to seek medical advice.
Parents or caregivers of young children who start to show symptoms of HFMD will likely not need to see a doctor if they can control the symptoms at home.
However, children or adults should see a doctor if their symptoms do not improve within
People with a weakened immune system should talk with a doctor about HFMD, particularly if their symptoms are severe. People who get HFMD during pregnancy should also make a healthcare professional aware.
A parent or caregiver should talk with a pediatrician if their child shows signs of the infection, particularly if other children at their school or daycare center have the illness.
They should also seek medical advice if the child has severe symptoms, is very young, or is unable to eat or drink enough fluids.
Although adults can get HFMD, they often experience no symptoms, so they may not realize they have contracted the virus.
Those with symptoms of the disease can expect to make a full recovery within 7–10 days.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral infection. Infants and young children are most susceptible, but it can sometimes affect adults and older children.
People can reduce their risk of contracting the virus by avoiding sick people, washing their hands regularly, and refraining from sharing drinks or food with others.
Treatment typically involves managing the symptoms, if any appear. A person can expect to recover in about 7–10 days.