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Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease: How To Treat It At Home

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner


Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Mar 18, 2023

Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease: How To Treat It At Home

Hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a common viral infection among children. Although the disease causes painful blisters in the throat and mouth, hands and feet, and diaper area, experts say the infection is often self-limiting and will resolve within a week. In case your child contracts Hand foot and mouth disease, how can you manage it at home? Find out here. 

Home Management for Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

As the infection often only causes mild symptoms, home management is usually enough to help children feel better. Here are some of the things you can do to support your child’s recovery: 

1. Give them acetaminophen paracetamol

Since the child may have fever, headache, and sore throat, paracetamol might help. 

If the symptoms make them too irritable, you may give them ibuprofen instead, provided a doctor advised you to. Ibuprofen should never be given in children younger than 6 months. 

Finally, don’t give your child aspirin as it’s associated with Reye’s Syndrome in kids and teens when they are experiencing or recovering from a flu-like disease. 

2. Give them salt water rinses 

Salt water rinses can help with sore throat and blisters in their mouth. To prepare, simply mix a glass of warm water with a teaspoon of salt. 

Note: Only give rinses to children who can rinse their mouth without swallowing. 

3. Allow them some cold treats

Besides salt water rinses, cold foods and drinks can also help soothe sore throat and mouth blisters. You can give them smoothies, popsicles, or ice cream. Please avoid fruit juices. Although they are cold, they are usually acidic and can further irritate the blisters in the mouth. 

4. Take care of the blisters

If your child has blisters on their hands and feet, please keep them clean and uncovered. Wash them with lukewarm water and soap and pat dry. 

The only time you’ll consider covering them is when they pop. Before bandaging, you can apply an antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection. 

5. Make sure they are well-hydrated

To support your child’s recovery from hand foot and mouth disease, give them plenty of fluids. Children older than 1 year old can have water, milk, and the cold treats we mentioned above. 

Children younger than a year old should have breast milk, formula milk, or fluids that can replenish their electrolytes. 

Things You Must Not Do While Your Child Has Hand Foot And Mouth Disease

The first thing you must not do when your child has HFMD is allow them to go to school until they are fever-free and the blisters have healed. 

Hand foot and mouth disease can spread from the fluids in the blisters and respiratory droplets and fluids, including mucus from the throat and saliva. Hence, it’s crucial to guide them into washing their hands frequently and covering their mouth and nose with disposable tissue when they sneeze and cough. As for the blisters, they are contagious until they have crusted and no longer have fluids. 

Another thing you must not do is give your child antibiotics. Hand foot and mouth disease is not a bacterial infection, so antibiotic therapy wouldn’t work on it. Giving your child antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription is dangerous and it increases the risk of antibiotic resistance. 

Key Takeaways

Hand foot and mouth disease is a common viral infection that causes blisters in the throat, mouth, hands, feet, and diaper area. It usually affects children, but can also occur in adults. In most cases, HFMD does not need treatment as it is self-limiting and will resolve within a week. 

Parents must remember that this disease is infectious. Hence, they must not allow their child to interact with other people until they have recovered. 

Learn more about Infectious Diseases in Children here

Disclaimer

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner


Written by Hello Bacsi · Updated Mar 18, 2023

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