Hand Foot & Mouth Disease

Hand Foot & Mouth Disease

Everything You Need To Know + A Secret Recipe To Cure The Pain

by Steve Silvestro, MD  @zendocsteve

LISTEN & SUBSCRIBE on iTunes or your favorite podcast app.


Hand Foot & Mouth Disease.” Say that name to almost any parent of young kids and you’re sure to see them shudder.

Worse than pinkeye, not quite as dreaded as lice, Hand Foot & Mouth Disease is probably one of the more miserable common infections that your child can get. With potentially high fever and terribly painful sores in the mouth, seeing your little one suffer from HFM will make you want to do anything you can to help him or her feel better.

So this short episode of The Child Repair Guide Podcast focuses on giving you the tools you need to recognize Hand Foot & Mouth and help your child feel more comfortable–and even potentially avoid getting it altogether!

Listen on your favorite podcast app or play the episode in the player below.

The Secret Recipe to Reduce Hand Foot & Mouth Disease Pain

The worst part of Hand Foot & Mouth is usually the pain from sores in the mouth. If your child is having a hard time eating or drinking because his or her mouth hurts, then you can make what pediatricians call “Magic Mouthwash.” You can make this concoction at home and apply it before each meal (or before nursing or giving a bottle).


Children’s Benadryl

Maalox (or “Equate”)

DirectionsMix equal parts of Children’s Benadryl and Maalox. Dip a cotton swab, paper towel, or washcloth into the mixture, then dab any sores that you see in your child’s mouth or on the gums or tongue. If your child knows how to swish and spit, then you can have them do that instead. Try not to let your child swallow much of the mixture. Assuming that your child does not swallow much, if any, of the Magic Mouthwash, it can be applied prior to each time your child eats.

But there’s more you should know, so listen to this quick podcast episode to learn it all–click here for iTunes or play the episode in the player above.


In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • What causes Hand Foot & Mouth Disease
  • The symptoms of Hand Foot & Mouth Disease, and how your child may or may not get them all
  • What you can do to help your child feel more comfortable
  • What signs should trigger you to call your pediatrician
  • How long your child is contagious if he gets Hand Foot & Mouth Disease
  • How you might prevent you or your children from getting sick with Hand Foot & Mouth Disease
  • And much more!

Remember, you can share this episode and the Secret Recipe to Reduce Hand Foot & Mouth Disease Pain with your friends, your preschool or daycare, and anyone else who cares for your child or would benefit from learning more about HFM.

And as always, if you find this information useful, please let me know by tweeting me @ZenDocSteve or writing me a post on my Facebook page! And be sure to sign up for my free kids’ health newsletter either below or on the sidebar so that you never miss out on more tips to keep your kids happy, healthy, and confident!

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Hand Foot & Mouth Disease



12 replies
    • Steve Silvestro
      Steve Silvestro says:

      Hi, Bonnie! I would say that the answer depends on what you mean by “reinfected.” Let’s say that a child has HFM and gives it to her brother before she gets better. If her brother is still sick with it when she’s feeling better, she shouldn’t be able to get reinfected from him–she’s already gotten over that particular strain and her body knows how to fight it.

      If you mean can you get HFM at some point in your life after having it once before, then the answer is ‘yes.’ There are different strains that circulate, and it is possible to get HFM again in your life if you are either exposed to a strain that varies enough from the one you had in the past, or if your immunity has decreased over time.

      I hope this helps!

  1. Litsa
    Litsa says:

    Hi Dr. Steve! Do you have any home remedies for HFM that we can do a bath in? I have used coconut oil in bath for my oldest, and the bumps/sores on his body were gone in less than a day. My little one has sensitive skin so, not sure if it will be a good remedy bath for him as well.

    • Steve Silvestro
      Steve Silvestro says:

      Hi, Litsa! I don’t have any particular HFM remedies that involve a bath. That’s great to hear that the sores resolved quickly with coconut oil. I’ll have to look into that some more. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jill
    Jill says:

    Hello, I have a question our pediatrician recommended that the babies drink the maalox/Benadryl mix. In your post it says try not to let them swallow. Why is that? Thank you so much! I am now worried I’ve beem doing the wrong thing!

    • Steve Silvestro
      Steve Silvestro says:

      Hi Jill,

      This is a great question, in part because it’s something that comes up a lot, and also because it’s often hard to prevent a young child from swallowing the Magic Mouthwash.

      Ultimately, it’s okay if the child swallows the mixture–but ONLY if it’s equal to or less than the maximum dose of Benadryl for the child’s weight (see my dosing guide, downloadable via the blue bar at the top of the page) AND if you’re only giving the mixture no more often than four times a day, at least four hours apart.

      Basically, the reason to try to dab the mixture onto the sores instead of letting the child swallow it is so that the child doesn’t get more Benadryl than is allowed for his or her weight. If you’re just dabbing a bit on and there is a minuscule amount that might be swallowed, then it’s not a problem.

      I hope this helps!

  3. Keana
    Keana says:

    My 1 1/2 year old son has just been diagnosed with hand foot mouth disease . I took him into the Er 7/15/18 and it is now 7/16/18 and it seems to be that the bumps have spread a lot more and gotten worse . is this normal? Is there anything that I could possibly do ?

    • Steve Silvestro
      Steve Silvestro says:

      Hi Keana,

      Sorry to hear that your little guy has HFM! Luckily, you’re already a few days in and should be over the hump soon. The rash can continue to spread over the first few days. After that, they rash might begin to look darker, and then will finally fade. It’s common to see that in some areas–especially on the feet–something like a “shadow” of the rash will remain for a few weeks.

      All in all, the progression of the rash that you’re seeing sounds fairly typical. That said, since I’m not able to see your son, if you are concerned about him it may be best to contact your pediatrician.

      I hope he feels better soon!
      Dr. Steve

    • Steve Silvestro
      Steve Silvestro says:

      Yes, it’s okay for her to take the magic mouthwash. Keep in mind that one ingredient is Benadryl, so you won’t want to use more than what would be the appropriate dose of Benadryl for her weight (see my downloadable dosing guide via the blue bar at the top of the page). I hope she feels better soon!

    • Steve Silvestro
      Steve Silvestro says:

      Hi Bev,

      I’m sorry to hear that your little one is sick! Assuming that Noah isn’t allergic to either of the ingredients, you can use the recipe above for the “magic mouthwash.” Just be sure to try and dab it on the sores in the mouth so that Noah doesn’t swallow too much of the medicine.

      Outside of that, again assuming no allergies to ibuprofen or acetaminophen and no health issues that would prevent you from using them, those are the typical ways to help with the pain.

      At 9 months, Noah needs to give you at least 5-6 good wet diapers in a 24-hour period. If that isn’t happening, then that’s your clearest sign of dehydration.

      Of course, I need to say that I can’t diagnose or treat him online, so be sure to check in with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

      I hope Noah gets better soon!

      Dr. Steve

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