Hand-Foot-Mouth Pediatric Care Plan

By David Shafran, MD
Medically reviewed
December 30, 2020

What is Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease?

Hand-foot-mouth disease (HFM) is caused by the coxsackie virus. As per its name, it causes a characteristic bumpy rash in the mouth and on the hands and feet. These bumps can be painful and make it difficult for your child to eat and drink.

HFM most commonly occurs in children less than 7 years old. Less common symptoms of the disease include:

  • fever
  • fussiness
  • stomach ache
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Complications of HFM are extremely rare, but when they occur they tend to affect the heart and the brain.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease

HFM is diagnosed based on history and physical exam. No blood work is required. 

There is no specific treatment for HFM. Management is supportive and includes: 

  • Encourage hydration, 
  • Pain control with tylenol and ibuprofen 
  • Magic mouthwash (maalox, benadryl, viscous lidocaine) is not routinely recommended because it has not been proven to be effective and ingestion of lidocaine can be toxic. Ask your provider if this is appropriate to try this in your child.

Check in with K If…

  • You have general questions about your child’s condition
  • You want general followup for your child
  • You have questions about supportive care
  • Your child’s symptoms don’t go away after treatment but are not alarming

See a Doctor in Person If…

  • Your child has a fever for greater than 7 days
  • Your child cannot drink because of mouth pain
  • Your child seems lethargic or unusually tired
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

David Shafran, MD

Dr. Shafran is a board-certified pediatrics physician. He joins K Health from the Cleveland Clinic, where he led a pediatrics practice and completed a fellowship in transplant ethics. He has completed multiple fellowships, including one in pediatric nephrology at Rainbow, Babies & Children's University Hospitals. He received his medical degree from the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv and completed his medical residency at the Jacobi Medical Center.