What Should You Know About HFMD?

What Should You Know About HFMD?

Hand, foot, and mouth disease (cause by the coxsackie virus) is a viral infection that is most common in children under 5 years old, though anyone can get it. It is not considered a serious illness, but it is very contagious and tends to spread very quickly through schools and daycares. .

What should I look for if I think my child has HFMD?

Symptoms are usually worse the first few days and gradually improve. Most cases resolve completely in 1-2 weeks. Symptoms may include all or only a selection of the following:

  • Fever
  • Sores that may appear on fingers, palms of hands, soles of feet, inside mouth, and on the buttocks
    • These may begin as flat red spots that begin to blister and become painful.
  • Loss of appetite
    • Pain in and around the mouth and back of throat may cause children to refuse to eat and drink, drool more than usual, and prefer cold liquids.


​Because hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral process, there is no medicine specifically to treat or cure the infection. The best course is to treat the symptoms, keep your child comfortable, and prevent dehydration. 

  • Avoid giving your child salty, spicy, or acidic foods. These will only irritate the sores in the mouth and cause more pain
  • Offer a soft, bland diet. Soft breads, ice cream, popsicles, etc
  • Push fluids to prevent dehydration. Your child may be hesitant to drink due to pain from swallowing. Offer cold fluids and popsicles to encourage your child to stay hydrated
  • If your child is over 6 months old, you may also alternate Tylenol and Motrin (dosage per weight) to help with the pain and fever

Control the spread of hand foot, and mouth

  • Cover mouths and noses when sneezing/coughing with a disposable tissue or arm sleeve if no tissue available
  • Wash your hands after changing diapers
  • Clean, rinse, and sanitize any toys that may have come in contact with your child’s saliva
  • Prevent the sharing of food, drinks, and personal items that may touch your child’s mouth such as spoons/forks, toothbrushes, and towels
  • Prevent contact from infected child and other children in the home. Try to prevent close contact such as kissing, hugging, etc. If the children share a room, separate them while contagious
  • Disinfect regularly touched surfaces.

When can my child return to school or daycare?

  • Your child should be fever free for 24 hours without the aid of fever reducers
  • No new blisters developing and current blisters are “drying” up. (No open or draining blisters)

When should I contact my child’s pediatrician?

  • You child is not drinking enough to stay hydrated
  • Fever (100.4 F or greater) lasts greater than 3 days
  • Symptoms do not improve after 10 days
  • Your child has a weakened immune system or if symptoms are severe
  • Your child is very young, especially younger than 6 months