Adult Hand Foot Mouth Disease: This Ain’t No Picnic

Adult Hand Foot Mouth Disease: This Ain’t No Picnic

The last two and a half weeks have been a blur. It actually feels like we’ve been through several months instead of just 19 days. It also appears that we aren’t finished. Let me paint you a picture:

Day 1: Wednesday

On a Wednesday night, almost three weeks ago, Baby Diva (8 months) struggled to sleep. When I went up to her, she was drooling like crazy and felt a little hot. After I nursed her, she seemed cooled down and went back to sleep. The next morning, however, she refused to nurse. I was perplexed as she usually doesn’t do this. But I needed to be out of the house and on the road in less than an hour, so this change was also inconvenient.

Day 2: Thursday

Frantically, I pumped and left the bottle with Math Man. My mom was on the way over to watch the baby, and it would all work out. This would be the first day I was away from her this long, and of course it was the first day she flat refused to nurse.

When I got home, she hadn’t really eaten all day. She was irritable. She nursed frantically but couldn’t be made comfortable. That night, she ran a fever again.

Day 3: Friday

Fast forward to the next day, and she’d barely nursed and just couldn’t be happy. She also developed some spots on her diaper area and face.

I took her to the doctor. She did have an ear infection, and our pediatrician quickly said but then dismissed, “It looks like Hand Foot Mouth.” After looking her over, she determined it was more likely diaper rash and spots from drooling and fever from the ear infection.

Day 4: Saturday

The next day, more spots showed up. Then, I received a text from a friend: “Do you have any home remedies for Hand Foot Mouth?”

And guess what? This friend and her kids go to church with us and our kids had spent the previous Sunday together in the nursery.

Day 5: Sunday

Miss Sassy Pants (10) developed a fever. No matter what I did, I couldn’t bring it down much below 101. She had chills. She was sleepy. Then, she developed a sore throat.

That night, the Animal (4) developed a fever. His throat was red.

A little later Sunday night, Flash (2) developed a fever. His throat looked ok.

Day 6: Monday

When I looked in Miss Sassy Pants’s throat on Monday morning, I saw spots. I had done enough research on HFM to know that the high fever and then sore throat with spots were symptoms.

Monday, we kept everyone home. Flash seemed to be better. He had no fever. The Animal, however, was down for the count. He requested a nap. He requested an early bed time. His fever continued, and I could see spots in his throat. Later that day, Flash also had some spots in his throat.

Miss Sassy Pants finally broke her fever. But her throat was horrifying. She was in so much pain that she could barely eat. She was also devastated because she and her dad were supposed to go on a trip. She had to miss it.

Day 8: Wednesday

A week now since Baby Diva first had her fever — Math Man told me he felt awful. I assumed it was a result of being up with the Animal all night, but he told me that the hair on his legs actually hurt. I asked him to stay home, but he had exams to give and is generally not one to miss a day of work.

By 11 am, Math Man was calling me to let me know he was on the way home. He said he felt so awful he just couldn’t make it any longer at work.

When he got home, it took one simple touch to his forehead to know that he was on fire. By noon, he was in bed. We didn’t see him again until later that night.

My boys started getting little spots on their hands. They looked sort of like blisters and sort of like henna tattoos. Miss Sassy Pants had no such spots, and Baby Diva’s were starting to go away.

Day 9: Thursday

I wasn’t shocked when Math Man, on Thursday afternoon, started finding some spots on his hands.

day 2 hands

Day 10: Friday

On Friday, his palms were covered. His face started breaking out. His beard and scalp had marks. He said he was hurting. My husband doesn’t say he’s in pain unless he’s really in pain. So I knew this was no joke.

day 3 hands

Day 11: Saturday

Saturday was worse. He wanted only to sleep, but he hadn’t slept through the night since Tuesday night. He was on his fourth night of no decent sleep. Motrin wasn’t helping. Benadryl wasn’t helping.

I encouraged him to use coconut oil on his face and head, at the least, since he was complaining that the dryness around his mouth was keeping him from opening wide enough to eat.

He was sustaining himself on cottage cheese, protein shakes, applesauce, the occasional mac-n-cheese, and coffee. Almost anything else burned.

And now the spots on his hands were dark in color. Much like the baby’s, the spots had turned a brownish-red. And they were now on his feet. In between his fingers. In between his toes. He was miserable.

day 4 2

Day 15: Wednesday

A week later, on Wednesday — 2 weeks after the baby and 1 week after Math Man — all of the kids were ok, but Math Man was still in pain. He said that his hands and feet felt as if they’d fallen asleep and were trying to wake up. That pin-pricking feeling that is not all together awful but would be if it didn’t stop. And it wasn’t stopping.

Day 17: Friday

Math Man kept rubbing his hands together. He said they were beginning to itch. Thank goodness for a snow day here at home so he didn’t really “miss” work.

Then, he started realizing that the spots were beginning to get so dry that places were starting to peel. Annoyed by that itching and the discomfort of the peeling, he started applying lotion on a regular basis.

Day 19: Sunday

Today, 19 days after the entire ordeal began, we’re watching as his hands continue to crack and peel. I’m not sure how he’s resisting picking at everything, and I’m crazy impressed by how much he’s still barreled through and done (helped me with the kids, cleaned house, going outside to play) despite how he must be feeling.

hands day 12 1

Bottom line, adult hand foot mouth disease is nothing to sneeze at. It starts as a horrible fever and body aches and chills. Then comes the throat. Then the spots and blisters. When you think it’s almost over because spots are fading, the itching and peeling begins.

I’m not certain how or why I have avoided this. Math Man keeps saying he’s so glad I didn’t get it (thank you). Not only would it have been hard to simply be a mom while feeling this way, he is determined that I couldn’t have handled it. I wanted to be offended, but he’s right. Knowing how much pain and anguish he’s been in, I’d have simply cried a bunch.

Have you ever seen or experienced adult hand foot mouth disease?

October 2018 UPDATE: This post has received a lot of traffic recently, and I hate to hear that more adults are seeing this. Math Man’s hands and feet finally peeled so badly that I had to use nail scissors to cut the dead skin away (ew, but sort of mesmerizing). The skin on feet, especially, was brand new, perfectly pink, baby-like skin. It looked nice, but it was ultra-sensitive.

It has now been almost 3 years since I wrote the post originally. Baby Diva never did go back to nursing, so I pumped and fed her a bottle until right after her first birthday. Math Man still talks about this being the literal worst pain and discomfort he’s ever experienced.

Tags: , , ,

45 thoughts on “Adult Hand Foot Mouth Disease: This Ain’t No Picnic”

  1. A few years ago two of my children got HFM disease and my husband came down with it. His throat was so sore that the doctor considered admitting him to the hospital. He had to gargle with a prescription called Magic Mouthwash. The main ingredient is Benadryl, which is fascinating to me, but it helped with the pain. The doctor said that HFM is like chicken pox. If you get it as a child you have life long immunity and you get through it much easier. I had it as a child which is why I did not get it and is probably why you did not either. My mother did not remember me having it, but blood work confirmed I was immune, which is only possible with having had the illness. Hope your hubby feels better soon!

    1. Glad we ran into each other! The Magic Mouthwash didn’t touch the back of his throat which was the worst part for him. 🙁

    1. Currently on day five and let me tell you this is no picnic. I’m 34 years old and have just been introduced to this wonderful disease. It’s everywhere! Face, hands, feet, groin… my fingers are numb and swollen to the point they feel like they’re going to explode.

  2. I had it about 3 years ago. I thought I was dying. If I ever get it again I will ask to be put out of my misery.

      1. Is there anything to get relief?! I have it now and my hands are killing me. I also have MS so I’m scared this is going to be even worse for me.

        1. Apparently, no. Nothing worked for my husband. We did get the “magic mouthwash” from the pharmacist, but even that didn’t help (it’s basically a numbing gargle solution but it didn’t go far enough down his throat). I would call your doc and see what they recommend especially with your MS. I pray you get relief!

  3. What did your husband do for his scalp? I am in college right now and I just got it because it has been spreading through campus. Also anyways to get rid of the itching or bumps on the face.

    1. First of all, I’m so very sorry you’re dealing with this. We tried lots of things, but the one thing that sort of helped was coconut oil…just for the moisture. And again, that was only SORT OF helped. He tried taking an antihistamine, and that didn’t TOUCH it. I’m so very, very sorry.

  4. I got it from my daughter (who is completely healed) however I’m on day 15 and the skin on my hands and feet is literally bubbling up and peeling off revealing pink, smooth, tender skin with no fingerprints. I mean the air hurts this skin. Did your husband experience this? If so, what did he use for relief? I can’t even take care of myself because of the tender skin! Help!

    1. It’s horrible, and I’m so sorry. I remember that nothing helped him. I’m so so very sorry. 🙁 Coconut oil and moisturizer was about all he could do. And he cut the old skin off (well, I cut it off) so that the new, tender skin could begin to toughen up. Bless you.

  5. I am going through this right now. My daughter got it last week from daycare. She is over it, but I started with a fever and extremely painful sore throat on Monday. Tuesday there was one sore on my finger. By Tuesday night I had more sores popping up on my fingers, and my feet started hurting in between my toes. Wednesday I had blisters on my face, scalp, hands, feet, and it was spreading to my arms. My hand and feet felt like I wad being stabbed with little needles everytime I touched something or walked. Today the tops of my fingers are caloused and numb and only a little painful. Nothing like before. My feet and scalp are peeling. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

  6. Thanks for posting! I’ve got it now with my 15 y.o. son. Must have contracted it the same place because we came down with fever the same day. No fun, no relief…as you found out. Thanks for the pics and the description of how your husband’s blisters felt. Gives me some idea of what to expect, there’s not a lot out there describing the experience. Must have been a nightmare with 3 young ones going through it at the same time!

    1. I am so very sorry you’re dealing with this. And I should have made clear: 1 husband and FOUR kids (just 3 of them were teeny) dealing with it. Yikes. I still don’t know how I made it out unscathed.

  7. I think I’m getting it now (28) as a few children at our childcare centre have it… I started with aches and pains on Monday which followed with an earache, headaches, fever and chills. It’s now Saturday and I’m starting to get spots plus a sore throat… any advice? How long will I need to be at home?

    1. Oh, I’m so sorry. My husband only stayed home a couple of days because he couldn’t afford to miss too much class time (he’s a high school teacher). He waited until his fever was for sure gone. I’m hoping that you’re wrong and this isn’t what you have, but if it IS what you’re dealing with, the pain is only just beginning, likely. He dealt with the frustration of those spots for weeks. Bless you.

  8. My 5 month old son and I just got over hfmd. I don’t think I’d catch, but when I did I didn’t sleep for two days because of the painful itching. My palms and soles were covered in blisters, but I’m glad I made it to the healing phase. I’m almost positive that I’ll lose some fingernails and toenails.

    Frankincense helped with mouth ulcers. I put one drop in a glass of water and gargled several times a day. Even a drop on your toothbrush helps. Unfortunately, nothing gave me relief from the itchiness on my hands and feet. However, playing with my son was a good distraction.

    Worst disease ever. …at least that I’ve experienced.

    1. You may even lose some skin in general. My husband’s was so “fresh” and soft for quite a while after it sloughed off.
      I hope your 5 month old didn’t suffer too much! (I know that you had to deal with major discomfort.)
      Good to know about the Frankincense!

  9. Thanks for sharing this article – I’m 26, have no kids, but I think I must have gotten HFMD from a patient at work. Currently day 6 and it’s so good to hear from someone else’s experience and know that I’m not crazy! My fingers are throbbing as I type this message, and getting around is like walking on glass. Not to mention I haven’t eaten in the past 3 days. Such a horrible virus, and definitely worse in adults. At least I can look forward to having new, baby smooth skin haha

      1. I’m 36yo male who came across this while seeking information for myself as I am a week in to HFaM and thought I would share my experience. It started with my 19 month old, after pretty much a sleepless night the next day he had a terrible fever well over 100 up to around 104.3 at the highest, it broke late the next night and his recovery has been quick. As for myself, last Wednesday afternoon I started having some body aches and felt warm, came home and had 101 fever, went to bed. I slept alight that night and didn’t feel bad the next day, worked about 12 hours came home and had a sleepless night, I only remember sleeping between about 330 until 5:00am, and I’m typically a very good sleeper. Next day I was tired but didn’t feel bad, I had a slight rash around my mouth, terribly ichy scalp and my hands and feet both had a dull ach. The rash on my face continued to worsen and grown, hands and feet both continued to be more and more sore. The next day my face is now covered from chin to forehead with approx 60 sores, now starting to ooz. My hands have faint red spots and are extremely sensitive, my feet feel as if I have gout or atheritis. The face rash and extreme hand and feet soreness worsended from Friday until Sunday morning, mid Sunday both rash and soreness starting easing. Today is Wednesday and my face rash is 94%clear, my hands and feet are no longer sore but my hands are almost numb and have almost no feeling, big toe some of the same but not as noticable. I had a hang nail on the side of my thumb and since clipping it the skin continues to harden up and peel back, I’m afraid this is going to be a continuing occurrence. As for treatment, I took Advil PM each night to help sleep for the three bad nights, and also took a dose of ibuprofen each morning after washing my face to help reduce the inflammation. For my face I used my typical soap and scrubbed my face gently two or three times each day during the worse break out period, and a week later my skin on my face is nearly clear. From talking with wife and coworkers it seems fairly common for adults to have bad experience and seems as if adult men are more likley to contract than adult women. I hope this helps someone. Keith

        1. Thank you for sharing. I didn’t realize that men might get it worse, but I was literally the only one in my family who did NOT get it, so that would make sense. Your tale sounds almost exactly like my husband’s. I hope it passes quickly for you!

  10. I am male 33 y.o. Been contacted HFMD from my twins a week ago and they just have doctor clearance today while i continued to be quarantine at home. Headache and fever suddenly come on and still hopeful for being suspected until having red spots on scalp, hands and legs..super itchy! Same wife is the only one who is free from this troubling disease. Woman have some sort of supernatural antibodies?

    1. I’m wondering how you’re doing now!? Not sure about women and their antibodies as one of my first commenters was female. I really hope you are in the healing stages!

      1. I am experiencing this after my two sons got it. Adults are much worse. I am a doctor myself but I still can’t help much. Swallowing food is just like swallowing a knife. Rash appears all over the body. My scalp got extremely itchy. I tried to put on some betnovate scalp solution which seems to help a bit. Its really a horrible experience.

  11. I am a “senior” & believe caught HFMD on an airplane on June 26th – and am still dealing with the red spots & blisters on hands & feet and tiredness. Initially I had strep throat & the flu, only to discover the HFMD underlying a few days later (scalp, hands, feet). After a first course of steriods the blisters & spots left, my palms looked burned – then 2 days later the blisters & red spots reappeared – has anyone dealt with this for such a long term? I have been wearing cotton gloves and use rubber gloves showering, cooking, cleaning, etc. I am now on my 3rd course of steroids…….terrible.

  12. Just recently got HFMD from my 15yo brother (I’m 18, senior in high school). My mom doesn’t seem to have much patience or sympathy for me, but I’m grateful to see that I’m not the only one who believes this is one of the most painful things ever. Hopefully this passes quickly, I can’t afford to miss much school. The rash literally feels like ant bites that itch, and sadly, it’s spread to my ears, nostrils, and even genital area.

  13. So recently I came down with HFMD after my 15yo brother contracted it from a friend’s younger siblings. This is by far the worst disease I’ve ever experienced. My mom hasn’t caught it but insists it’s probably not that bad and I’m a hypochondriac. Good to see that I’m not the only one in excruciating pain. Currently on day three of having the rash, got steroids and meds from the doc yesterday. Pray I make it out alive!! XD

    1. Oh no! I still have been blessed enough to only be an onlooker, but I guarantee this is legit pain. My husband doesn’t whine about any sort of pain – but he certainly let me know the HFMD was horrendous. I hope you get better soon!

  14. How did your husbands face heel? Going thru the same thing now and not sure how to handle the recovery part. Currently my face is starting the stages of slowly scabbing.

  15. I realize this is an old post.. but oh my gosh I have it now. I have survived 20 years working in pediatrics without getting it until now 😩 But I have a question… being a peds NP you would think I would know the answer, but I don’t 🤷🏻‍♀️. I’m on day 3 of fevers, headache and mouth sores that are spreading and worsening. It’s horrible! Now here is the weird symptom… my scalp, feet, butt and face (around my mouth) are horribly itchy… it’s miserable! But…there’s no visible rash, blisters or lesions🤔 The only thing visible is in my mouth. Has anyone experienced this?

  16. I was starting to panic here, well past midnight, contemplating whether to go to ER or not as my hands and feet are red with spots and itching like mad. My 3 yr old had this last week, but when we went to the doctors, he said it wasn’t HFMD but just another viral infection. The next day, I was down with a fever for about 48 hrs, so weak and painful headache. Then the worse sore throat started. Now this morning noticed the red spots on my hands and by night time it’s spreading to my arms. I was so scared it might be something else (since the doctor originally said it wasn’t) but reading about everyone’s similar experiences really help calm me down, so thanks. Now at least I know what to expect in the following days to come

  17. Finally a post that I can relate to! My 2 year old ran a low grade fever Monday, bumps showed up Thursday, no big deal for her. Honestly didn’t even think it was HFM until I got a super sore throat Friday night followed by a few painful itchy bumps on Saturday with the bumps and pains me itching only significantly increased Sunday and they’ve spread to my scalp. Did I also mention I’m 6 and half months pregnant?! I’m absolutely miserable 😭😭

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *