Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease in Emergency Medicine Medication

Updated: Oct 02, 2018
  • Author: Pamela L Dyne, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Medication Summary

No specific therapy for hand-foot-and-mouth (HFM) disease has been identified. Antibiotics are not indicated unless a complicating secondary skin infection is present.

Standard dosages of antipyretics (eg, acetaminophen, ibuprofen) are recommended on an as-needed basis for fever and analgesia.

Codeine can be used for significant pain that is not controlled with ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Topical treatments include diphenhydramine and lidocaine (or benzocaine). Lidocaine or benzocaine should only be applied with a cotton swab (and infrequently) to specific areas to avoid toxicity. [8]


Analgesic agents

Class Summary

Pain control is essential for quality patient care. Some analgesics (eg, acetaminophen, ibuprofen) also are effective for treating fever.

Acetaminophen (Feverall, Tempra, Tylenol)

Inhibits action of endogenous pyrogens on heat-regulating centers; reduces fever by a direct action on the hypothalamic heat-regulating centers, which, in turn, increase the dissipation of body heat via sweating and vasodilation. Effective for treating fever and relieving mild-to-moderate pain.

Ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin)

Effective for treating fever or mild-to-moderate pain. Inhibits inflammatory reactions and pain by decreasing prostaglandin synthesis.


Indicated for moderate to severe pain. Binds to opiate receptors in CNS, causing inhibition of ascending pain pathways, altering perception and response to pain.

Diphenhydramine (Benylin)

Elicits antipruritic activity and weak local anesthetic action. Used topically for temporary relief of pruritus or pain.

Lidocaine anesthetic (Xylocaine)

Available as a gel or viscous oral solution. Decreases permeability of neuronal membranes to sodium ions, resulting in inhibition of depolarization and blocking transmission of nerve impulses. Initial treatment of choice for small sparse ulcers. Does not decrease healing time but may allow patient to better tolerate eating and drinking. Pain relief may be short lived, and frequent applications may be necessary.

Benzocaine (Cepacol, Orajel)

PABA derivative ester-type local anesthetic, minimally absorbed. Inhibits neuronal membrane depolarization, blocking nerve impulses. Used to control pain.