Diagnosis, treatment and outlook for hand, foot and mouth disease

Diagnosis, treatment and outlook for hand, foot and mouth disease

Diagnosis, treatment and outlook for hand, foot and mouth disease

How is hand, foot and mouth disease diagnosed?

Your doctor will typically distinguish between the viruses that may cause hand-foot-and-mouth disease and other viruses that have the same symptoms by evaluating the following:

  • The pattern of the physical symptoms and signs
  • The patient's age
  • The appearance of the sores and rash

It is also possible that a doctor will take a stool specimen or throat swab to send to a lab for further testing to determine which specific virus is the cause of the illness.

How is hand, foot and mouth disease treated?

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease does not have a specific treatment. The symptoms and signs of the disease tend to clear up within seven to 10 days. Typically, a topical anaesthetic can be administered orally to help relieve any pain that may be experienced due to the sores that develop in the sufferer's mouth. OTC (over-the-counter) pain medications can also help. These include:

  • Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB)
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)

Home and lifestyle remedies

There are some foods and liquids that have been known to cause irritation to the throat or mouth when experiencing the ulcer-like sores associated with hand, foot and mouth. The following tips may make  eating and drinking easier:

  • Sucking on ice cubes
  • Eating soft, cold foods such as custard or ice cream
  • Sipping cold drinks such as ice water
  • Avoiding acidic beverages and foods such as fruit drinks, soda and citrus fruits
  • Avoiding spicy or salty foods
  • Rinsing the mouth after meals with warm water

If you notice that your child is able to rinse their mouth without swallowing the liquid, then salt mixed in warm water can sometimes be soothing to their sore mouth. This can be done a number of times a day as it aids in reducing pain and  inflammation.

What is the outlook for hand, foot, and mouth disease?

The outlook and prognosis for hand-foot-and-mouth disease is usually very positive, given that one has the routine virus and symptoms without complications. The symptoms are more bothersome than debilitating.

The medications that aid in reducing pain and fever are often very helpful. If you give your child soft foods like jelly, custard, yoghurt or ice-cream, this not only helps to not aggravate the sores within the mouth, but is often also regarded as a treat, which has psychological benefits when they may be feeling cranky and unwell.

Washing hands

PREVIOUS What are the complications and risk factors of hand, foot and mouth disease?
NEXT FAQ about hand, foot and mouth disease