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Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Children


Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD) is caused by the Coxsackie (cok-SACK-e) virus (germ). HFMD is most often caught by children under 10 years old, but people of any age can get it. Children with HFMD usually get a fever first, then red spots with blisters in the middle. HFMD blisters may form in the mouth and on the tongue, hands, feet, or buttocks. HFMD lasts about 10 days and usually is caught in the summer or early fall. Your child cannot catch HFMD from animals.



  • You may give your child ibuprofen (I-bew-PRO-fin) or acetaminophen (uh-c-tuh-MIN-o-fin) for his fever or mouth sore pain. Ask your child's caregiver and check the medicine box label for the right amount to give your child. Never give aspirin to your child without first asking your child's caregiver. Giving aspirin to your child when he is ill may cause a very serious illness called Reye's syndrome.
  • Always give your child's medicine as directed by caregivers. Call your child's caregiver if you think your child's medicines are not helping him. Call if you feel your child is having side effects. If your child is taking antibiotics (an-ti-bi-AH-tiks), give them to your child until they are all gone even if your child feels better.
  • You may try putting a numbing gel on your child's mouth sores. You can buy these gels at the grocery or drug store. Ask your child's caregiver if an antacid solution would be helpful for your child's mouth sores.


If your child is feeling fussy or sick, allow him to rest as much as possible. If your child is feeling playful and has energy, let him do his regular activities.


  • If your child has painful mouth sores, he may not feel like eating or drinking very much. Give your child soft, mild foods that feel good in the mouth. These may include yogurt, pudding, milkshakes, jello, mashed potatoes, and applesauce. Serve cool or room-temperature drinks.
  • Do not give your child foods or drinks that are salty, spicy, or tart. Do not give citrus or carbonated drinks such as orange or grapefruit juice, lemonade, or soda. These liquids may cause your child's mouth to hurt more. Offer drinks in a cup, since sucking from a bottle could hurt. Your child may want to use a straw if he has blisters on his lips or end of his tongue.


Your child may return to school after his fever is gone and he does not feel sick anymore. Also, the red blisters should be dry and crusted over.


  • The spots become pus-filled or very painful. These may be signs that the spots have become infected.
  • Your child's mouth sores are so painful that he refuses all eating and drinking.
  • Your child has any problems that may be caused by a medicine he is taking.


  • Your child is dehydrated (dry) from not getting enough fluids. Your child may be dehydrated if one or more of the following happen:
    • He has not urinated in 8 hours.
    • The soft spot on the top of the head is sunken (in babies).
    • No tears when crying.
    • Lips are cracked and dry.
  • Your child has a stiff neck, bad headache, back pain, or fever higher than 100.4°F (38°C).

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Children (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

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