Your doctor will likely be able to distinguish hand-foot-and-mouth disease from other types of viral infections by evaluating:

  • The age of the affected person
  • The pattern of signs and symptoms
  • The appearance of the rash or sores

Your doctor may take a throat swab or stool specimen and send it to the laboratory to determine which virus caused the illness.


There's no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. Signs and symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease usually clear up in seven to 10 days.

A topical oral anesthetic may help relieve the pain of mouth sores. Over-the-counter pain medications other than aspirin, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) may help relieve general discomfort.

Lifestyle and home remedies

Certain foods and beverages may irritate blisters on the tongue or in the mouth or throat. Try these tips to help make blister soreness less bothersome and eating and drinking more tolerable:

  • Suck on ice pops or ice chips.
  • Eat ice cream or sherbet.
  • Drink cold beverages, such as milk or ice water.
  • Avoid acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits, fruit drinks and soda.
  • Avoid salty or spicy foods.
  • Eat soft foods that don't require much chewing.
  • Rinse your mouth with warm water after meals.

If your child is able to rinse without swallowing, swishing with warm salt water may be soothing. Have your child do this several times a day or as often as needed to help reduce the pain and inflammation of mouth and throat sores caused by hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

Preparing for your appointment

If you take your child to a doctor, make the most of your time by writing down information the doctor will need before you go, including:

  • Any signs and symptoms your child is experiencing
  • How long your child has been having signs and symptoms
  • Whether your child has been in child care or other environments where the disease might be spread
  • Any questions you have

Some questions you might want to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the likely cause of the symptoms?
  • Are there other possible causes?
  • Will my child need to undergo any tests?
  • What's the best treatment approach?
  • Is there a need to take medicine?
  • What can I do at home to make my child more comfortable?

What to expect from your doctor

Some questions the doctor may ask include:

  • When did symptoms first begin?
  • How severe are the symptoms?
  • Has your child recently been exposed to anyone who was sick?
  • Have you heard of any illnesses at your child's school or child care?
  • Does anything seem to improve the symptoms?
  • Does anything appear to worsen the symptoms?

What you can do in the meantime

To help lessen discomfort, doctors often recommend:

  • Getting rest.
  • Drinking fluids — milk-based fluids may be easier to tolerate than acidic liquids, such as juice or soda.
  • If needed, taking over-the-counter pain relievers other than aspirin, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) in an age- and weight-appropriate form and dosage. But they're not necessary for low-grade fevers and will do nothing to hasten the resolution of your child's condition.
  • Using mouthwash or oral spray to numb pain.
Sept. 25, 2020
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  2. Longo DL, et al. Enterovirus, parechovirus, and reovirus infections. In: Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 19th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2015. http://www.accessmedicine.com. Accessed March 28, 2017.
  3. Hand, foot, and mouth disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/index.html. Accessed March 28, 2017.
  4. Hand, foot, and mouth disease information sheet. World Health Organization. http://www.wpro.who.int/emerging_diseases/hfmd.information.sheet/en/#. Accessed March 28, 2017.
  5. Modlin JF. Epidemiology, pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention of enterovirus and parechovirus infections. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 28, 2017.
  6. Romero JR. Hand, foot, and mouth disease and herpangina. https://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed May 5, 2017.
  7. Drutz JE. Acute pharyngitis in children and adolescents: Symptomatic treatment. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease