Hand, foot and mouth disease

If Your Child Has Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease

Hand-foot-mouth disease is a type of infection that causes a rash in the mouth and on the hands and feet of infants and young children. The red spots, which usually are not itchy, also may appear in the diaper area. The sores in the mouth usually appear on the tongue, the sides of the cheeks, and on the gums.

What Causes It?

Hand-foot-mouth disease is caused by viruses. The most common causes are coxsackieviruses and enteroviruses. These are spread through direct contact from person to person. Kids younger than age 10 are at the most risk.

Good hand washing is necessary to help prevent the spread of the disease, which is most common in the summer and fall.

How It Can Be Treated

Treatment focuses on easing symptoms until they eventually go away. You can try these strategies for your child:

  • Offer plenty of fluids. Avoid acid-containing juices, which can irritate mouth sores.

  • If your child has a fever, try over-the-counter acetaminophen.

  • Mix half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and let your child rinse her mouth with the solution.

If you suspect your child has hand-foot-mouth disease, contact your doctor for advice.


“Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease.” Medline Plus, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, August 10, 2012. www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000965.htm. Accessed 2013.

“Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 5, 2008. http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/index.html. Accessed 2013.

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