It can cost $0 - $471 to treat hand, foot, and mouth disease without insurance. Most people with hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD) recover on their own within 7 to 10 days. There is no specific medical treatment for HFMD although you can alleviate symptoms with over-the-counter (OTC) medication and by staying hydrated. The pain relievers used to alleviate symptoms of HFMD are often already in the home. However, if they are not, location, type, and quantity can affect the cost of treatment.
Costs to Treat Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Most people treat HFMD on their own and the steps to alleviate symptoms often include supplies and foods already in the home which can help you save money on the cost of treatment.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by a virus which is why antibiotics do not work to treat the disease. It is not obligatory to get a diagnosis from the doctor if you have symptoms although some people go to make sure it is not something else.
A doctor may run an additional test to confirm it is HFMD, however, they can often tell by looking at the blisters. All treatment for mild cases of HFMD (severe cases are rare) can be purchased over-the-counter except for “Magic mouthwash” which is prescription-only and can offer relief.
Cost of Medical Services and Over-the-Counter Medications Without Insurance for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Cost without insurance
(not common but can be in the form of a throat swab or sample taken from the blisters or stool)
|Oral topical anesthetic|
|Antibiotic ointment (Eg., Neosporin)|
Cost of Home Remedies to Help Treat Symptoms of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
A common symptom of hand, foot, and mouth disease are painful sores on the inside of the cheeks, on the tongue, and on the gums of your mouth. This can make swallowing difficult which is why it is best to opt for soft foods. You should also avoid foods and juices that are spicy and high in acid such as lemonade as it can irritate your mouth sores. It is important to remain hydrated to prevent dehydration.
Most people probably have enough soft foods to get by with already at home. Below we list some examples of the foods and drinks that you may want if you are having trouble swallowing and chewing because of HFMD symptoms.
The prices below were obtained online from Walmart to show the cost of at-home treatment:
*Saltwater mixture to gargle can help relieve a sore throat
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Additional Costs to Treat Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is contagious which is why it is important to stay home if you have it. The cost of staying home can be the most difficult to calculate but can become the most costly.
For example, if you are a parent and your child gets the disease and needs to stay home, you may need to take time off work to care for them or hire child care. Taking time off work or hiring someone to watch your child can drive up the cost of treatment for HFMD.
Factors that Influence the Cost to Treat Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
There are many factors that influence the cost to treat HFMD. Below we list some factors that you can look at to determine what you need and how it will affect the cost to treat hand, foot, and mouth disease:
- Prevalence of symptoms: Some people, mostly adults, do not show symptoms of HFMD. If your symptoms are not noticeable or are mild, you may not feel the need to take OTC medications, eat different foods, or apply a topical anesthetic, which would greatly reduce the cost of treatment.
- Generic or brand name medications: If you have symptoms such as fever and sores, you can relieve the pain by taking Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen. Purchasing brand-name drugs such as Motrin, Advil, and Tylenol are typically more expensive than generic name brands.
- Pharmacy: Different pharmacies mark the prices of their OTC medications differently. Local and big-name pharmacies vary in prices and can have sales and discounts occurring at different times. Before going to a pharmacy, call or search online to find out their prices. MiraRx is an online tool that allows members to search for the best deals on prescriptions in their area.
- If you need to hire childcare or take time off work: If you need to take time off work or hire someone to watch your child if they have HFMD, this cost can add up quickly. Prices of childcare vary greatly but can be reduced or avoided if you have a partner, friend, or another family member that can help out.
- If you go to a doctor: The price of an HFMD diagnosis can be costly and varies if you go to urgent care or your primary care doctor. Additional lab tests will also cost more to ensure that it is not another disease.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth and Disease Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is common and often occurs when children return to school after the summer. Below we answer some questions regarding HFMD.
Why is there no medical treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a viral infection which is why antibiotics cannot cure it. There is no cure or vaccine currently available to treat and prevent HFMD in the US.
In 2015, China approved the first vaccine against the virus that causes HFMD. This vaccine does not protect against every strain that causes HFMD but prevents a strain that has caused serious illness and even death in young children.
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Who is most at risk for hand, foot, and mouth disease?
Infants and children younger than five years old are more likely to contract HFMD. It tends to spread quickly among children in daycare, camp, and school although adults are susceptible to the disease as well. People can contract the disease more than once.
When should I see a doctor for hand, foot, and mouth disease?
If you have symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease, you may want to go to a doctor to get diagnosed although it is not always needed. Doctors diagnose hand, foot, and mouth disease by looking at the blisters or by running lab tests occasionally. If you know you have been exposed to HFMD, consider having a virtual visit to protect the health of your doctor and other patients.
If you or your child’s symptoms worsen or do not get better, call a doctor as the disease could be more severe. Call a doctor if your child is unable to drink fluids due to their sore throat and mouth sores.
There is no medical treatment to treat hand, foot, and mouth disease although there are steps you can take to help ease the pain caused by symptoms. The cost to treat HFMD can range anywhere from $0 - $471 depending on what you feel you need to best alleviate symptoms and what you might already have at home.
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Erica graduated from Emory University in Atlanta with a BS in environmental science and a minor in English and is on track to graduate with her Master's in Public Health. She is passionate about health equity, women's health, and how the environment impacts public health.