12 Effective Home Remedies For Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease

Treat the infection immediately with simple, effective, and readily available remedies.

Medically reviewed by Dr. Archna Agrawal, MSc (Dietetics), Naturopathy Dr. Archna Agrawal Dr. Archna AgrawalMSc (Dietetics), Naturopathy facebook_icon
Written by , Health & Wellness Writer Shaheen Naser Health & Wellness Writer Experience: 3 years
Edited by , Senior Editor Arshiya Syeda Senior Editor Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , Beauty & Lifestyle Writer Dipti Sharma Beauty & Lifestyle Writer Experience: 2 years
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The hand-foot-mouth disease is a viral infection affecting children and infants below 5 years of age (1). This infection can easily spread from one infected individual to another. The infected person may transmit the virus even after several weeks of the initial infection. However, following simple remedies and adopting a few lifestyle changes can minimize infection risk to a great extent. Learn more about this infection and the home treatments here.

What Is Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease?

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) is a mild but contagious infection quite common in children. Its main cause is coxsackievirus. It is characterized by mouth sores and rashes on the hands and feet.

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease is the most infectious in the first seven days. The virus often stays in the body for weeks and can easily spread to others.

How Can You Get Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease? How Does It Spread?

The viral infection easily spreads through the spit or feces of the affected children. Even close contact with an affected individual puts other people at a high risk of contracting the disease.

Though this disease is said to affect infants the most, it may also affect adults with weakened immune systems. Tiffany Baura, a mom blogger, shared her experience about contracting HFMD, in her personal blog, after her two young children got it. She said, “The thing is, since I was the one taking care of both of them, I lacked sleep and my immune system was down…So, when my children started to get better, I started to feel worse (i).”

Wiping the nose of an affected child or changing his/her diapers are other ways the disease can spread. Hence, it is important you wash your hands thoroughly after any contact with patients.

Let us now take a quick peek into the cause of this contagious disease.

What Causes Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease?

The most common cause of the hand-foot-and-mouth disease is the coxsackievirus A16 virus. This virus belongs to the group of non-polio enterovirusesi  XCommon viruses present in over 100 types that cause infectious illnesses like fever and skin rashes. .

In a global study to understand the epidemiology of HFMD, the disease was found to infect children more than adults, with outbreaks primarily in daycares, summer camps, or within the family. In 2021, there was a rapid increase of HFMD cases reported in France with more than 3400 cases, 90% of the cases caused by Enterovirus and the rest by Coxsackievirus A6 and A16. Coxsackie A6 is the dominant cause of HFMD in the United States.

This infection most often spreads due to oral ingestion of infected food/water. It also spreads from direct contact with infected:

  • Nasal or throat discharge
  • Stool
  • Ruptured blisters
  • Saliva
  • Respiratory droplets from a sneeze or cough

protip_icon Quick Tip
The average daily incidence rate of hand, foot, and mouth disease falls between 0 to 4 per 1,00,000 people in Jiangsu province (China) from 2015-2020 (2).

Those with the disease exhibit the following symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease?

The common symptoms associated with hand-foot-and-mouth disease include:

  • A sore throat
  • Fever
  • Skin rash
  • Appetite loss
  • Irritability (especially in infants and toddlers)
  • Malaise
  • Painful blisters inside the cheeks and on the tongue and gums
  • A red rash with/without blistering that surfaces on the soles, palms, and in some cases, the buttocks

There is no specific treatment for hand-foot-and-mouth disease. The symptoms of this disease usually start easing in 7-10 days. Most treatments are aimed at getting relief from the pain and alleviating symptoms.

Tiffany’s 2-year-old daughter exhibited classic symptoms of foot and mouth disease. She noticed that her kid started to develop some red rash around her mouth, which she suspected had occurred because her mouth had not been wiped clean after her meals. The rash resembled chicken pox sores with itchy blisters, and the child complained of a mouth sore that caused discomfort during meals.

Varsha Sridhar, a researcher at Magee Women’s Research Institute, recounted her struggle with HFMD in an essay published in Family Medicine. She mentioned feeling discomfort in her throat while swallowing and a vague feeling of nausea. She added, “I woke up the next day, feeling weak and exhausted, and also bewildered about the incessant itching on my palms (ii).”

protip_icon Did You Know?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease was first reported in New Zealand in 1957 (3).

While there are many medications available, you can try natural remedies for hand, foot, and mouth disease treatment at home, as they pose the least side effects.

12 Simple Remedies For Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease

1. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil for hand foot and mouth disease
Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1-2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil
  • Cotton balls
What You Have To Do
  1. Take some virgin coconut oil on a cotton ball.
  2. Apply it to the affected area and leave it on until it dries. You can also leave the oil on overnight.
  3. Discard the used cotton ball.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this once daily for best results.

Why This Works

Coconut oil possesses both anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties (4). These may help treat the blisters and rashes.

2. Baking Soda Bath

Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • ½ cup of baking soda
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add half a cup of baking soda to a tub filled with water. Allow it to dissolve completely.
  2. Soak in the baking soda bath for 15-20 minutes.
  3. You can also use the baking soda solution to rinse your mouth.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this once daily.

Why This Works

While there is no study to prove this claim, anecdotal evidence suggests that baking soda is anti-inflammatory and can alleviate the symptoms of itching and inflammation.

3. Epsom Salt Bath

Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 cup of Epsom salt
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a cup of Epsom salt to a tub filled with water. Allow the salt to dissolve completely.
  2. Soak in the bath for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pat your skin dry.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this once daily or every alternate day.

Why This Works

Epsom salt is also referred to as magnesium sulfate, thanks to its composition. Magnesium inhibits inflammation by decreasing the production of inflammatory cytokinesi  XSmall proteins which, in the right amounts, can control the activity and growth of immune system cells and blood cells. in the body (5). Hence, it could be helpful in soothing the associated blisters and rashes.

4. Essential Oils

a. Lavender Oil

Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

4-5 drops of lavender oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Add a few drops of lavender oil to your hand/body wash.
  2. Use it regularly.
  3. You can also diffuse some lavender oil around you before bedtime if the symptoms are interrupting your sleep.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this once daily for best results.

Why This Works

Lavender oil is analgesic and anti-inflammatory and can possibly help relieve the painful rashes and blisters (6).

b. Tea Tree Oil

Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

4-5 drops of tea tree oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Add four to five drops of tea tree oil to your hand/body wash.
  2. Use it regularly.
How Often You Should Do This

You may use the tea tree oil infused hand wash multiple times daily if you are at risk of developing hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

Why This Works

Tea tree oil is antimicrobial and can be used to disinfect and sanitize your hands/body from the harmful disease-causing germs (7).

Caution

Do not use this remedy on babies or pregnant women.

5. Oatmeal Bath

Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 cup of oatmeal
  • Water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a cup of oatmeal to your bath filled with water.
  2. Mix well and soak in the oatmeal bath for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Pat dry your skin after the bath.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 1-2 times daily to alleviate the discomfort.

Why This Works

Oatmeal is quite popular in dermatology, owing to its impressive anti-inflammatory properties. These can help soothe the inflammation that accompanies hand-foot-and-mouth disease (8).

6. Oil Pulling With Coconut Oil

Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

1 tablespoon of cold-pressed coconut oil

What You Have To Do
  1. Swish a tablespoon of cold-pressed coconut oil
  2. In your mouth for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Spit the oil and go about your regular oral regimen in the morning.
How Often You Should Do This

You can do this once daily, preferably every morning.

Why This Works

Oil pulling with coconut oil can help alleviate the painful and inflamed blisters inside the mouth. This is due to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties of coconut oil (4).

7. Ginger

Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 inch of sliced ginger
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Boil an inch of sliced ginger in a cup of water.
  2. Simmer and strain.
  3. Allow the solution to cool a bit before consuming it.
How Often You Should Do This

You can drink ginger tea twice daily.

Why This Works

The antiviral property of ginger can speed up the healing of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (9). Ginger also has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties and can thus help improve the symptoms (10).

8. Garlic

Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

1-2 garlic cloves

What You Have To Do
  1. Consume one to two garlic cloves daily.
  2. Alternatively, you can also add crushed garlic to your favorite salads and dishes
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this once daily.

Why This Works

The virucidali  XA substance with a tendency to destroy or inactivate viruses inside the body and prevent diseases related to them. properties of garlic, combined with its anti-inflammatory properties, may help speed up your recovery from hand-foot-and-mouth disease (11), (12).

9. Elderberry

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Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2-3 teaspoons of dried elderberry
What You Have To Do
  1. Add two to three teaspoons of dried elderberry to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and strain.
  4. Allow the mixture to cool a bit.
  5. Consume the warm elderberry tea.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this 1-2 times daily.

Why This Works

Elderberry possesses immunity-boosting and antiviral properties that can ease the symptoms of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (13). Therefore, strengthening the immune system may also accelerate recovery.

10. Licorice Root

Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 teaspoon of dried licorice tea
  • 1 cup of water
What You Have To Do
  1. Add a teaspoon of licorice root to a cup of water.
  2. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to steep for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Drink the warm tea.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this 1-2 times daily for optimum benefits.

Why This Works

Licorice root is a popular Chinese herb used to treat many illnesses due to its antiviral nature (14). These antiviral properties can also help treat hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

11. Aloe Vera

Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need

Freshly extracted aloe gel

What You Have To Do
  1. Extract some gel from an aloe vera leaf.
  2. Whisk it using a spoon.
  3. Apply the gel to the affected areas.
  4. Leave it on for at least 20-30 minutes before rinsing it off.
How Often You Should Do This

You may do this twice daily for best results. If you have extremely dry skin, add some moisturizer to aloe gel before application. It may improve skin hydration and may help in faster recovery.

Why This Works

Aloe vera gel possesses anti-inflammatory properties that can help in soothing the inflamed rashes and painful blisters associated with hand-foot-and-mouth disease (15).

12. Cod Liver Oil

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Image: Shutterstock
You Will Need
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of cod liver oil
  • 1 teaspoon of yogurt
What You Have To Do

Oral Consumption

  1. Mix the oil and yogurt in a small bowl.
  2. Pour the mixture into a spoon.
  3. Swallow it.

Topical Application

  1. Clean the affected area.
  2. Apply the mixture to the affected area.
  3. Leave it on overnight or rinse it off after 30 minutes.
  4. Follow it up with a mild moisturizer.
How Often You Should Do This

You can consume it once a day or apply it twice a day.

Why This Works

The omega-3 fatty acids in cod liver oil may reduce chronic inflammation and ulceration (16). Further, the vitamin A in the oil may accelerate wound healing and may potentially help treat HFMD (17).

Listed below are some tips that may help you in the prevention of this contagious disease.

How To Prevent Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease

  • Wash your hands multiple times a day, especially if you have been handling diapers or bathing an infected child.
  • Do not touch your eyes, mouth, or nose with dirty hands.
  • Avoid close contact with affected individuals.
  • Do not share utensils with infected individuals until they have recovered.
  • Disinfect common areas like toilets regularly.
  • Infected individuals must avoid venturing out until advised by the doctor.

Tiffany expressed the importance of rest during this period. She said, “Let them sleep as often as they can even during the day. We encouraged our 2 kids to keep sleeping and I feel that it has contributed to their faster recovery.”

Infographic: Risk Factors For Hand, Foot, And Mouth Disease

Children’s primary caregivers still worry about hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD), even though it is usually a mild disease that goes away within weeks. However, you can take several preventive measures to safeguard yourself if you know you are at risk of contracting it.

Check out the infographic below to determine whether or not you or someone you know is likely to catch this disease.

risk factors for hand, foot, and mouth disease (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

Get the high-quality PDF version of this infographic.

Download Infographic in PDF version

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a contagious viral infection. It can affect infants and children below 5 years. It spreads through infected food or water, nasal discharge, saliva, stool, and from a sneeze or cough. However, certain home remedies for hand, foot, and mouth disease may help treat the condition. These include coconut oil, baking soda bath, Epsom salt bath, essential oils like lavender oil and tea tree oil, and oatmeal bath. In addition, you can prevent this disease by washing your hands multiple times, avoiding close contact with the infected individual, and disinfecting common wash areas. But if your symptoms continue to worsen, immediately consult your doctor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can coconut water help treat hand, foot, and mouth disease?

There is not much evidence to prove that coconut water may help treat hand, foot, and mouth disease. Dr. Laura Purdy, MD, a board-certified family medicine physician, says, “Although it is important to note that hand foot, and mouth is caused by a virus, there’s really no specific treatment. Coconut water in and of itself is very nutritious with lots of vitamins, and it does contain a substance called lauric acid, which is thought to assist in fighting viruses. It would not directly treat the virus, necessarily, and I would not expect that they would get better much faster.”

Can lemon essential oil help to treat hand, foot, and mouth disease?

According to Dr. Purdy, “There are some schools of thought that believe that lemon essential oil may have some antiviral properties, and it is safer than some other types of oils that could be used on children.” She reiterates, “This is a virus, and it does not have a direct cure. But it will not harm the child to try to use this in the course of their illness while they are recovering.”

What ointment is good for hand, foot, and mouth disease?

The 1% hydrocortisone ointment (over-the-counter) may help improve this condition. Additionally, home remedies like petroleum jelly or zinc oxide (topical ointments) may help heal the blisters.

Can honey help treat hand, foot, and mouth disease?

Yes. A mix of honey, finger millet flour, and natural soda ash solution is used to manage hand, food, and mouth disease (18).

Should I take my child to the doctor for hand, foot, and mouth disease?

Yes, especially if your child’s mouth sores or sore throat prevent them from drinking fluids.

Does calamine lotion help with hand, foot, and mouth disease?

There is no medication for hand, foot, and mouth disease. Calamine lotion may help relieve irritation.

What is the quarantine period for those dealing with hand, foot, and mouth disease?

Three to six days is the quarantine period for those dealing with hand, foot, and mouth disease.

Can I put Neosporin on hand, foot, and mouth blisters?

Yes. You can put antibiotic ointment (Neosporin) in small amounts on hand, foot, and mouth blisters.

Key Takeaways

  • Coxsackievirus A16 virus is the most common cause of hand-foot-and-mouth disease.
  • Some of the common symptoms of this disease are fever, sore throat, and appetite loss.
  • You can manage this condition with home remedies like coconut oil, baking soda, Epsom salt, and more.
  • You can also prevent this infection by washing your hands regularly and maintaining your distance from infected individuals.


Hydration is key to treating hand, foot, and mouth disease. Watch this insightful video to learn how to keep your body hydrated and help fight off the virus.

Personal Experience: Sources

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Hand, Foot And Mouth Disease” Centers For Disease Control And Prevention.
  2. Transmissibility of hand, foot, and mouth disease in 97 counties of China.
  3. Hand, foot and mouth disease” – a short case report.
  4. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antipyretic activities of virgin coconut oil.” Pharmaceutical Biology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  5. Magnesium Decreases Inflammatory Cytokine Production: A Novel Innate Immunomodulatory Mechanism” Journal Of Immunology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  6. Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil.” Annals of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, US National Library Of Medicine.
  7. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties” Clinical Microbiology Reviews, US National Library Of Medicine.
  8. Anti-inflammatory activities of colloidal oatmeal (Avena sativa) contribute to the effectiveness of oats in the treatment of itch associated with dry, irritated skin.” Journal Of Drugs In Dermatology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  9. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines.” Journal Of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  10. Ginger–an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions.” Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library Of Medicine.
  11. In vitro virucidal effects of Allium sativum (garlic) extract and compounds.” Planta Medica, US National Library Of Medicine.
  12. Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds” Journal Of Immunology Research, US National Library Of Medicine.
  13. The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines.” European Cytokine Network, US National Library Of Medicine.
  14. The antiviral and antimicrobial activities of licorice, a widely-used Chinese herb” Acta Pharmaceutica Sinica B., US National Library Of Medicine.
  15. Antiinflammatory activity of extracts from Aloe vera gel.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  16. Dietary fish oil reduces progression of chronic inflammatory lesions in a rat model of granulomatous colitis” British Society of Gastroenterology, US National Library Of Medicine.
  17. Topical application of cod liver oil ointment accelerates wound healing: an experimental study in wounds in the ears of hairless mice” Scandinavian journal of plastic and reconstructive surgery and hand surgery, US National Library Of Medicine.
  18. Use of Ethnoveterinary Remedies in the Management of Foot and Mouth Disease Lesions in a Diary Herd” African Networks on Ethnomedicines, US National Library Of Medicine.
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