Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease: A Narrative Review

Recent Adv Inflamm Allergy Drug Discov. 2022;16(2):77-95. doi: 10.2174/1570180820666221024095837.


Background: Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral disease in childhood. Because the disease has the potential to reach epidemic levels and mortality is high in some countries, early recognition of this disease is of paramount importance.

Objective: This purpose of this article is to familiarize pediatricians with the clinical manifestations and management of hand, foot, and mouth disease.

Methods: A search was conducted in February 2022 in PubMed Clinical Queries using the key term "hand, foot, and mouth disease". The search strategy included all clinical trials, observational studies, and reviews published within the past 10 years. Only papers published in English were included in this review.

Results: Hand, foot, and mouth disease is characterized by a painful oral enanthem and asymptomatic exanthem on the palms and soles. Children younger than 5 years are most commonly affected. Hand, foot, and mouth disease caused by enterovirus A71 is more severe and has a higher rate of complications than that attributed to other viruses such as coxsackievirus A16. Circulatory failure secondary to myocardial impairment and neurogenic pulmonary edema secondary to brainstem damage are the main causes of death. Fortunately, the disease is usually benign and resolves in 7 to10 days without sequelae. Given the self-limited nature of most cases, treatment is mainly symptomatic and supportive. Intravenous immunoglobulin should be considered for the treatment of severe/complicated hand, foot, and mouth disease and has been recommended by several national and international guideline committees. Currently, there are no specific antiviral agents approved for the treatment of the disease. Drugs such as ribavirin, suramin, mulberroside C, aminothiazole analogs, and sertraline have emerged as potential candidates for the treatment of hand, foot, and mouth disease. Vaccination of susceptible individuals in high-risk areas and good personal hygiene are important preventative measures to combat the disease.

Conclusion: Familiarity of the disease including its atypical manifestations is crucial so that a correct diagnosis can be made, and appropriate treatment initiated. A timely diagnosis can help avoid contact with the affected individual and decrease the risk of an outbreak.

Keywords: Beau lines; hand-foot-mouth disease; onychomadesis; oral ulcers; papules; vesicles..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Enterovirus Infections* / diagnosis
  • Enterovirus*
  • Exanthema* / epidemiology
  • Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease* / complications
  • Humans
  • Mouth Diseases*


  • mulberroside C