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Hand, foot and mouth disease treatment

There is no treatment to kill the coxsackievirus that causes hand, foot and mouth disease. The symptoms usually clear up in seven to ten days. Antibiotics do not work.

Allow blisters to dry out naturally. The blisters should not be deliberately burst because the fluid within them is infectious.

It’s possible to make your child feel more comfortable by treating the symptoms.

Relieving the symptoms

  • Paracetamol can ease pain and fever, but avoid aspirin. You can ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice on the right product and dose for your child.
  • Give your child plenty to drink. Ice blocks or jelly can soothe a sore mouth.
  • Give your child soft foods. Avoid tangy or acidic food that could sting a sore mouth.
  • Encourage your child to rest. Keep them home from day care or school until their blisters dry up.

If the symptoms are severe, please see a doctor.

Signs of a serious infection

Signs that your child might have a more serious form of hand, foot and mouth disease include any of the following:

  • persistent fever (38°C or above for 72 hours or more)
  • abnormal movements/jerking movements
  • rapid breathing
  • excessive tiredness, drowsiness
  • excessive irritability
  • difficulty walking.

If any of these signs are present, your child should see a doctor urgently even if they have been checked earlier in the illness.

Last reviewed: November 2016

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