Quick facts about Hand, foot, and mouth

What is hand, foot, and mouth disease?

Your child may have hand, foot, and mouth disease, if your child has:

  • Low grade fever between 100° F and 102° F
  • Small, painful sores in his mouth
  • Small water blisters or red spots on the palms of his hands and soles of the feet. You may also see these blisters on the webs between the fingers and toes.
  • Five or fewer blisters on each hand or foot
  • The blisters will appear as the fever is resolving, and may also be preceded by drooling and decreased appetite.

A virus causes this disease. This happens most often in children 6 months to 4 years old. The fever goes away by the 3rd or 4th day. The mouth sores go away in 7 days. The rash on the hands and feet can last 10 days.

How can I take care of my child?

Helping the pain

  • A mixture of ½ Benadryl and ½ Maalox may be helpful. Children may swish and spit this solution, it is OK if it is swallowed. Children under age 2 may use 1 teaspoon, older children may use 1-2 teaspoons.
  • Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) to help control the fever, or if your child is in pain. If your child is older than 6 months, you may use ibuprofen (Motrin) instead. DO NOT give aspirin.

Feeding your child

  • Give soft foods, such as yogurt, cottage cheese, or Jell-O
  • Use a cup for drinks, instead of a bottle
  • Cold drinks, milkshakes, popsicles, and sherbet can feel good
  • Stay away from citrus, salty, or spicy foods.

Spreading the disease

  • Your child is contagious while the fever is present.
  • It is not uncommon for playmates to get the disease in 3 to 6 days
  • Your child may return to school after the fever goes away.

Call your child’s doctor right away if:

  • Your child has not urinated for more than 8 hours
  • Your child acts very sick

Call during office hours if:

  • The fever lasts for more than 3 days
  • You have any other questions or concerns.
 Adapted from an article by B. D. Schmitt, M.D.