Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD Patient Handout


About Your Diagnosis

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection that starts in the throat. It is caused by coxsackievirus A16. It is spread from individual to individual. It usually affects children up to 3 years of age. The disease requires no specific treatment and usually resolves in 4 or 5 days.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Signs and symptoms of the disease include a sudden onset of fever; a sore throat with ulcers in the mouth and throat; a rash with blisters on the hands and feet and sometimes the groin area; loss of appetite; and headache.

Tylenol or tepid sponge baths can be used to reduce the fever. Children who are old enough should rinse their mouth with a mild salt water solution. To avoid spreading the disease, use separate eating utensils and boil them, or use disposable utensils. Boil bottle nipples separately from bottles for 20 minutes. Pacifiers should also be sterilized. Keep the child out of day care or pre-school to prevent spreading the infection to other children. Rest until the fever is gone. Encourage fluid intake by offering ice creams, custards, and jello, because solid foods may not be tolerated.

The DOs
• Keep the child home from preschool or day care for 4 or 5 days.
• Use Tylenol or tepid sponge baths for the fever. Don’t give aspirin.
• Boil bottle nipples, pacifiers, and eating utensils after use.
• Use a mild salt water solution to rinse the mouth if the child is old enough (1/2 teaspoon in 1 cup warm water).
• Rest until the fever is gone.
• Encourage liquids and soft foods.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t give aspirin to a child with a viral infection because aspirin use has been associated with Reye’s syndrome.
• Don’t send a child to preschool or day care for 4 or 5 days.
• Don’t share drinking cups or eating utensils.
When to Call Your Doctor
• If symptoms last longer than 4 or 5 days.
• If a high fever develops and does not respond to Tylenol or sponge baths.
• If the child has severe difficulty swallowing and can’t maintain good fluid intake.