Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease- What You Need to Know!

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)  is a virus that causes small painful blisters in the mouth. Most children also get tiny blisters on their hands and their feet. This is caused by the Coxsackie A-16 virus, and mainly occurs in children ages 6 months-4 years. Although Hand Foot and Mouth Disease can be very painful, it usually does not cause severe complications in most children.


  • Fever- Usually less than 102° F and lasts 2-3 days
  • Small painful ulcers in the mouth. Look for them on the tongue and sides of mouth. Mouth ulcers should go away by 7 days.
  • Small, thick-walled water blisters OR red spots on the hands and feet. Occurs on palms, soles, and webs of the fingers and toes. Rash on the hands and feet lasts 10 days. The rash on the hands and feet may then peel.
  • In some cases, peeling of the fingers and toes is common. It looks bad but is harmless. It happens at 1 to 2 weeks. Use a moisturizing cream on the raw skin.
  • Some fingernails and toenails may fall off. It occurs in 4% of severe cases. It happens at 3 to 6 weeks out. Trim them if they catch on things.
  • Fingernails grow back by 3 to 6 months and toenails by 9 to 12 months. They will look normal.

Care Advice for Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease HFMD

  1. Liquid Antacid for Mouth Pain Age 1 Year and Older:
    • For mouth pain, use a liquid antacid such as Mylanta or the store brand. Give 4 times per day as needed. After meals often is a good time.
    • Age 1 to 6 years. Put a few drops in the mouth. Can also put it on with a cotton swab.
    • Age over 6 years. Use 1 teaspoon 5 ml as a mouth wash. Keep it on the ulcers as long as possible. Then can spit it out or swallow it.
    • Caution: Do not use regular mouth washes, because they sting.
  2. Fluids and Soft Diet:
    • Try to get your child to drink adequate fluids.
    • Goal: Keep your child well hydrated.
    • Cold drinks, milk shakes, popsicles, slushes, and sherbet are good choices.
    • Solids. Offer a soft diet. Also avoid foods that need much chewing. Do not give citrus, salty, or spicy foods. Note: Fluid intake is more important than eating any solids.
    • For babies, you may need to stop the bottle. Give fluids by cup, spoon or syringe instead. Reason: The nipple can increase the pain.
  3. Pain  and Fever Medicine:
    • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product such as Tylenol or an ibuprofen product such as Advil as needed.

Call Your Doctor If:

  • Signs of dehydration occur
  • Red, swollen, and tender gums
  • Ulcers and sores are on the outer lip
  • Rash spreads to the arms and legs
  • Fever lasts more than 3 days
  • Fingernails or toenails fall off
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Your child becomes worse

HFMD is a mild and harmless illness, however it is very easily spread. Children usually come down with symptoms 3-6 days after exposure. Most children can return to child care or school after the fever is gone. Most often, this takes 2 to 3 days. Children with widespread blisters may need to stay home until the blisters dry up which can take about 7 days.

If you have any questions or concerns about Hand Foot and Mouth Disease or any other issue your child is facing, contactThe Pediatric Center in Idaho Falls, Idaho or Rigby, Idaho. Our medical providers are trained and experienced in the physical, mental, emotional, and social development of children and youth. At The Pediatric Center, you will find excellent preventative and need based care for children of all ages.



Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Copyright 1994-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.