Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease… SUCKS

Warning:  Gross pictures of hands and feet covered in yucky, painful blisters included.  Not for the faint of heart/ easily grossed out.


My kiddos brought home Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) from daycare two weeks ago. I had heard of it from parents and received a notice from church the year before that a kid had it and done my research. Supposedly this is a “mild” “childhood” illness and there’s not a lot that can be done. Everyone agreed “it’s just a virus that needs to run its course.”


Daycare spent the day after the first kid’s mom figured out what he had and pulled him bleaching everything and notifying us. By then, my guys were lethargic and both had fevers. They spend all day, every day climbing over everything, so I knew something was up. But what I read on the Internet said it wasn’t a big deal, so I gave them some Motrin, got lots of cool liquids in them, and we blasted through our woefully inadequate Disney movie collection. Several times.

We also ran through every quiet game idea I could think of.  Lots of play dough and coloring.


HFDM: Kid Edition


Day 1: Fevers, lethargy, complete disintrest in food.


Day 2: More of the same.


Day 3: Fevers broken, red spots visible beneath the skin on hands and around mouth


Day 4: Spots friggin everywhere. My baby didn’t get it too badly, but poor Taz had spots from head to toe. He looked like a teenager with terrible acne.


Day 10: All blisteres scabbed over and on the mend.


Day 14: Spots nearly healed up.


So all in all, not too bad.


But I’m writing this post for ME, and for all the poor adults out there who are lucky enough to catch this disease. There is NOTHING on the Internet about adult HFMD. Every resource is geared towards taking care of the kids. The pediatrician told us, “Adults usually don’t catch it. “ Every website I found echoed that statement.


Well, I better go out and buy that lottery ticket, because honey- I caught it.


I knew I was in trouble when I was reading to Taz and he turned in my lap to ask me for milk and sneezed right in my face. Ah, the joys of parenting a 2 year old.


My recovery is still rolling right along, but in hopes of helping a desperate adult out there trying to deal with this horrible, painful disease, here’s my timeline.


HFMD: Adult Edition


Day 1: Right as my kids are starting to feel better (of course), I wake up feeling like I want to die. It didn’t cross my mind yet that it could be HFMD because “adults rarely catch it.” I had a fever of 102f, complete with chills. I was drenched in sweat and couldn’t stop shivering. My head felt like It had been hit with a hammer. Every muscle and joint in my body ached, and my throat was swollen and sore. I dragged myself to the doctor, hoping to get a strep diagnosis, as that was the only thing I could relate it to. She swabbed my throat, and though it came back negative, did a culture, wrote me a script for penicillin, and said she’d call if the swab was negative, but that it looked like strep to her. Oh, how I would totally trade this for strep.


Day 2: I woke up feeling better. The fever had broken, but my thumbs were itchy. Sometimes my skin dries and cracks from all the diaper changing and hand washing I do, so I thought it might be doing that, but it got worse. By the end of the day, the doctor hadn’t called, but I was horrified when I realized I had caught HFMD from the kids. I stopped the penicillin because I knew it would be useless. My hands were on FIRE and red blotches started to show under my skin. The pain continued to get worse. Nothing relieved it. I tried steroid cream, calamine lotion, ibuprofen. Nothing helped except for ice. I laid on the couch all night and just held bags of ice. I managed an hour of sleep holding bags of ice that night.


Day 3: The burning lasted all day. I pulled out my numbing stuff from my after-birth stitches recovery and got an hour nap by covering my hands in Tucks pads.   Heat is unbearable.  Washing hands in anything other than cold water or preparing anything on the stove is out of the question.  That night, no more sleep. I held ice again.

 photo 4-4 photo 3-7 photo 2-7

Day 4: My hands were better today, but they burned every time I touched anything. It was a relief to not be in constant myhandsareonfire pain, but I have to touch a lot of things between two kids still banned from daycare and a house to take care of. Typing was out of the question. My feet caught fire that night and kept me up for the THIRD night in a row. I soaked them all night.

 photo 5-3

Day 5: My hands are now completely numb. I feel like I am wearing rubber gloves- there is very dulled sensation in my fingertips. The spots are less red and angry today, but my hands look like they have aged 60 years. My feet are no longer on fire, but burn with every step. Blisters are between all of my toes. My mom freaks out that I don’t have any feeling in my hands and sends me back to the dr. I get in to my primary today, and he confirms that it’s the worst adult case he’s ever seen. “You look like a dermatology textbook worst case scenario.” He sends me home with a script for painkillers. Thank the Lord, with their help I manage to sleep that night.


Day 6: The pain is greatly lessened today.


Day 7: The peeling begins. After a day of relief, my hands are shedding like crazy, coming off in big chunks. I don’t think I’ll have fingerprints after this is over. And I’m slightly horrified because I’ve read that some kids shed their finger and toenails. Please, God, don’t let that be me. I have too many people to take care of.


I’ll keep updating in hopes that it helps another suffering mama out there find SOMETHING that says YES. ADULTS CAN GET THIS AND IT IS HORRIBLE. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone, and I’d trade giving birth naturally again for it ANY DAY.

11 thoughts on “Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease… SUCKS

  1. Pingback: Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease: A Hell of a Thing | Opinionopolis

  2. YUUUUP! Same thing, except on my SCALP too! One of the few things that gave me relief was calamine lotion. Because it is DRYING it seemed to at least somewhat lessen the symptoms. Somewhat…

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this! I got this virus after playing with a friend’s baby and I thought I was only adult to get it! When I went to the doctor, she asked her show her trainee because “you don’t see this everyday.” My fingertips have started peeling and I’m afraid my fingernails will peel too 😔 Hope there’s a vaccine in the future. Such a nasty virus!!

    • I’m so sorry you got it! I seriously wouldn’t wish that ish on my worst enemy. Thankfully, I got lucky and didn’t lose any nails, but my skin was extremely sensitive for about a month when my hands peeled. It felt like I was running my fingers through wires when I washed my hair.and no you are NOT alone at all. I’ve had 5 other mom friends catch it and all of us got slammed bad. If you haven’t already, get some really good pain mess from the doc, and get some soft gloves to wear so you don’t fee like a leper in public. I’m happy to say that I have absolutely zero scarring or other residual effects. Sending thoughts and prayers for you that you can say the same in a few months.

  4. I’m so glad I came across your website as I’ve finally found someone who has posted pictures of their condition that look like mine ie all over their hand with darker spots as opposed to just a few blisters. I’m only on day 4 of this and from the sounds of it, there is a long road to recovery left to go. I’m hoping the finger nails and toenails are left in tact as I can’t imagine having to deal with that on top of lookin after two little kids. My itching has subsided but there is little feeling in my fingers and it hurts to walk. I am trying to be positive about recovering but it is a bit hard as I am caring for my three month old son who had this horrible virus also. We both caught this off my nearly three year old daughter who is nearly 100% recovered which I’m thankful for. Thank you for taking the time to document your experience as there is not enough information out there for adults – there really has to be a vaccine for this especially if there are various strains of this virus.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I was beginning to really worry when every picture I saw was one or two blisters. Mine looks exactly like yours! Today my fingers feel so much pressure that it feels like my nails will just pop off! I was in 52 hours of labor and I’d do it again to not experience this! Horrible horrible horrible!

  6. I found your site while I was googling and was so relieved! Finally – someone telling me that this wasn’t a “mild illness for adults” My symptoms and timeline were spot on with yours. I’m on Day 5 and eagerly waiting for relief. Thanks for your very informative descriptions!

  7. I got it from my kids. I’m one month post hfmd, and my hands and feet are peeling where the blisters were. I feel like a lizard! Trying to find something to put on my feet to help with the peeling.

  8. I’m so glad I found this website. I was misdiagnosed with possible UTI? Which I didn’t have. I too thought it was my it was strep throat. My throat is the worst part, my rash and blisters are few so far and it’s day seven. I can’t seem to eat or drink much, DR gave me codeine in cough syrup, I take that with and advil about three times a day. If it wasn’t for all these comments I would be scared that it was just me. I hope I can eat solids soon, it’s been seven days. Even drinking anything hurts. My suggestion if you can’t eat a lot, eat healthy, take probiotics, keep your immune system up as much as you can. Warm water with cinnamon stick and organic honey is helping me, if you can add lemon even better. Homemade chick soup. I’m going to try some Lemon Balm Tea (traditional medicinal brand), and some Braggs apple cider vinegar in warm water with lemon, I heard they are both good against viruses. Can’t hurt. Hang in there anyone who has this at the moment.

  9. I got this from my 13month old. My wife got it too, but only the first stage of it with the flu like symptoms (thank god!!). I got it bad. Really really bad. ER Doc said it was the worse case of it he had ever seen. I was covered about 80-90% on my feet, and about 40-50% on my hands. I was fortunate enough to avoid the mouth part of the illness and only get a couple spots on my lower legs. There is another symptom never talked about that men can get, and for which only more recently a connection to the disease has been made. It can cause Epididymitis, I thought after day 6 I was finally feeling better. I am now back to bed rest as I can barely walk or stand.

    This is without a doubt the worse illness i have ever had. I have no idea why there is so little out there for official adult symptoms. Only places like this, written by those poor souls unfortunate enough to contract this plague.

  10. I am still dealing with the aftermath of THE PEELING. Dear God, I thought I had athlete’s foot and then I started googling and came across a few websites like this one where people are explaining the disgusting aftermath of HFMD. I used to love my feet. They currently gross me out. I don’t want people to see them or touch them, and were it not for the fact that I have to leave the house for work, I’d never step foot outdoors. My heels are cracked and itchy, the blisters are STILL popping up (albeit empty ones, with no fluid in them).

    I got this from my kid, who was fine after three days, although her feet stopped peeling about a week ago, the lucky thing.

    This is probably one of the grossest things that has ever happened to me, and I really wouldn’t wish this on anybody. My consolation is that my nails are intact and I didn’t get any of this on my face.

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