10 Things I Wish I Knew About Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease Before My Son Had It

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease Before My Son Had It

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This week, we had the pleasure of having Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease hit our home. It has been going around my son’s daycare despite their constant cleaning, sterilizing, and disinfecting. I have been hearing more and more about this disease recently, but didn’t really know much about it until now. After doing some research online and speaking with my son’s pediatrician, I learned  so much about this disease that I wish I would have known BEFORE my son got it.

1. What is it?

I had heard others talk about it, but never really knew what it was. Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease is a viral illness that most commonly affects children and infants 5 years of age or younger. The disease is most commonly caused by a virus called coxsackievirus A16.

2. How long it takes for symptoms to show?

From the time the child is exposed to the disease, it takes 3-6 for the initial symptoms to show up. This is called the incubation period.

3. The LAST symptom is the rash…and it’s not just on the hands, feet, and mouth

Even though the disease is most clearly identifiable by the rash and blisters, those are usually the LAST symptom to show up. The first is typically a fever. My son was exposed to he virus on Friday (this was the only day he went last week). On Monday morning, he woke up with a fever. He was also lethargic and had a poor appetite, which are also initial symptoms. He wasn’t drinking much, which I later learned was because his throat hurt. At the time, we thought it was teething. On Tuesday, he had no fever, so we sent him back to daycare. Wednesday afternoon, daycare called when they noticed the rashes and blisters showing up. A trip to the doctor confirmed that it was Hand-Food-and-Mouth Disease. The rashes and blisters don’t just show up on the hands, feet, and mouth though. They are all over my son’s legs, arms, and bum as well.

Here are what some of his rashes looked like the first day they appeared.

4. How it is spread?

It is pretty much spread through any fluid coming out of your child: saliva, poop, coughing, sneezing, fluid from open blisters, etc. They best means of avoiding infection is constant hand washing and disinfecting.

5. There isn’t really a treatment

There isn’t any medicine to speed up the recovery process. The only thing you can really do is give your child acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help with the fever, avoid foods that will irritate the blisters in the mouth, and offer plenty of fluids (especially cold ones) to your child.

6. You and your kid will be quarantined for DAYS

Unfortunately, this is not an illness your child will get over overnight. It is going to take several days for the blisters to heal. If your child is in daycare or school, you are going to have to keep him home for several days until it has cleared up. This is a challenge if you are a working parent, and even more so if you have multiple children. Try your best to keep your child away from other children. We will be spending our Labor Day Weekend at home, waiting for this grossness to leave our household!

7. Hand washing will become your new hobby

Constant hand washing and sanitizing, especially after diaper changes, becomes even more important. It helps the virus from spreading around the house even more, and from contracting it yourself.

8. Keep an eye out for dehydration

One of the more important things to watch for when your child has Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease is for signs of dehydration. Because of the sore throat, many children do not take in enough fluids. We were lucky that after Monday, our son has been eating and drinking normally.

9. Adults CAN catch it

Even though Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease is most common in young children, adults CAN contract it as well. Just ask my husband. The symptoms can be similar. My husband had the fever, decreased appetite, and sore throat. He thought he was getting strep until he noticed the blisters in his mouth. Our pediatrician has said that in adults it most often looks like cold sores instead of the rash and blisters all over, and that was what happened in my husband’s case.

10. This is one time it is OK not to share

When your child has the virus, it is TOTALLY OK for them not to share. In fact, it is encouraged. They shouldn’t share toys or, unfortunately, kisses. Be prepared to disinfect and sterilize EVERYTHING once those blisters have scabbed over and healed.

It has been a stressful, yet educational week in our household. I hope you don’t have to battle this virus, but in case you do, here are some additional resources with helpful information:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WebMD

Mayo Clinic

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease: Five Questions Answered

 This blog post was originally published in August 2014.

About the author

Kristen is a mom, wife, educator, and blogger living in Cleveland Heights with her husband Dave, 3 year-old son Patrick, and 5 year-old nephew Nicholas. Kristen moved to Cleveland 11 years ago after living in southern Ohio all of her life. After graduating from Ohio University (Go Bobcats!), she moved to Northeast Ohio, and has loved it ever since! Kristen and her family love getting out to enjoy all that NEO has to offer, and shares her experiences, both in parenting and NEO, on her blog www.readysetparenthood.com!

29 Comments

  1. While in quarantine can you still go outside for fresh air

  2. I have the disease with bad blisters on my feet. I work 10 hr days and the blisters are killing me. With my situation can I go ahead and pop them? Thank you.

  3. Hey I’m also a husband who has HFMD, and I tell ya it is terrible. Friday had a 104 fever. Saturday was exhausted and no appetite but no fever so figured it was allergies. Sunday woke up and I’m in pain. Feet feel like I’m walking in needles and hands hurt/itch. I feel so bad for little ones who have this because it is horrible.

  4. Blue Star ointment seems to work with the rash for my son(4years old).

  5. Your post makes me chuckle, not because I think Hand, Foot, Mouth is funny but because the story is so much like what we just went through…and that I happened across this article and we are from Chardon!
    My 1yo had it 1st, we didn’t realize and we thought he was teething. It wasn’t until our 3yo was crying in pain every time he ate or drank that we decided to go to the dr. and she pointed out the 1yo had it and gave it to the 3yo, when I mentioned the 1yo was having baf teething symptoms. The “funniest” part is my husband got it worse than anyone. Fatigue, sore throat, bad rash on his hands. The kids just had fever and sore throat…not rash…thank goodness.

    1. My 8 month old niece whom I have custody of has it. But she hasn’t ran a fever. The blisters just showed up yesterday and I thought they were ant bites but I was like we’ll she hasn’t been around any ants. Call the doctor this morning and emalied them the pics I took of her little hands and that’s what it is. Hfmd. I feel so helpless cause you can just look at her and tell she doesn’t feel good.

    2. How long did it take for his hand rash in your husband to go away? I unfortunately caught the same thing from my one-year-old right now and I’m dealing with it he’s getting better and I’m getting worse on my hands

  6. It really sucks when kids get sick. Hand Foot and Mouth is contagious for a while after they feel better as well so it spreads so easily.

  7. Hello! I had this as an adult a few years ago. My toddler daughter had an extremely mild case of it. I had a full-blown case of it. Sore throat on a Friday night, fever all day Saturday, Sunday went in for a strep test and as I was awaiting the results, the red spots appeared before my eyes. It was the most painful condition I’ve ever had. My hands and feet felt like severe pins and needles all the time for a few days. Room temp water felt scalding. Touching anything, especially fabric felt like torture. I had very deep blisters that made my fingers look like tiger stripes. Eventually all that skin died and peeled, but before it peeled, it felt like my fingers were coated in candle wax. After they peeled, the skin was super raw, so I was back to being sensitive to temperatures and textures. As my feet peeled, which was probably a full week after my hands were done, standing on our show mat was very uncomfortable as all that skin would catch on all the little holes in the mat. It didn’t help that I was working a trade show nearly this whole time. I was able to stay home through the most contagious period, but it was the two weeks or so after that that was worse.

  8. Can I do anything when he complains it’s hurting !!!

    1. Charlotte Borthwick

      yogurt for me was one of the best pain reliever, if its his rashes or spotty red marks then smear on yoghurt, leave for 10 mins, wipe it off with a cold wet towel and then hopefully the pain would’ve gone, if its his throat, giggling warm salt water is good and again yoghurt with some one can also be a more healthy pain reliever as although ice-cream is lovely, it will most likely slow down the recovery process.

  9. Hello.. my name is shivam. I am 24yrs old . I have been suffering from this HFMD(hand foot and mouth disease) from last year . firstly I got it on may 2016 and after that I recover.. I am continuesly getting it after 3 months gap. Last time I had was on January 2017 and now again on may. What should I do? I am really fed up with this disease.

    1. same with my daughter; you should get checked to see if you have an autoimmune issue. My daughter is currently undergoing testing because of recurrent thrush and HFM.

  10. Hello My Name Is Nikki. I Have A Little Boy Who Will Be 15Months Old The 9Th And He’s Been Drooling REAL REAL BAD And I Thought It Was From A Back Tooth That’s Popped Through And Then He Finally Let Me Look In His Mouth And I saw These Spots On His Tongue And The Tip Of His Tongue But I Haven’t Seen Anything On His Hands Or Feet Just Yet Fingers Crossed That He Don’t Get It On His Hands And Feet I Couldn’t Imagine Going Through This. My Question Is When It Comes To HFM Does It Have To Be On All 3 (HFM) Or Could It Just Show Up On His Tongue? My Husband Can’t Take Off Work And I Don’t Have Any Way To Get My Little Boy To The Doctor Everyone I Know Had Little Babies Or Kids His Age And Scared They Will Get It Which I Understand That I Just Don’t Know What I Can Give Him Or Help His Mouth Feel Better Besides Popsicles And Cold Stuff Which He Don’t Want Really Can I Give Him Gatorade????? Do I Need To Mix The Gatorade With Water Or No???? I Know He Can Drink Gatorade Cause When He Had A Cold The Doctor Said He Could Have It But I Don’t Know If The Gatorade Will Aggravate The Sores On His Tongue Or Not Please Help Me I Have Been Giving Him Benadryl Even Before The Sores Showed Up In His Mouth Because The Doctors Said He Had Allergies And It Wasn’t A Cold But I Know It Was A Cold Because Me And My Husband Got It And Allergies Aren’t Contagious But I Saw Online Where It Said Benadryl Would Help But Then I Saw Online Where It Said ”
    Schedule an appointment with your doctor for a prescription for xylocaine, a numbing agent. Then, with your doctor’s permission, go to the pharmacy and ask the pharmacist to mix the xylocaine with Mylanta, the antacid, and Benadryl” But Then Again I Don’t Know If My Little Boy Can Have That Cause He Will Only Be 15Months Old On October 9th So I Don’t Know What To Do…..ANYONE IF YOU CAN PLEASE HELP ME

    1. If You Know Any Medicine Besides Benadryl And Tylenol/Motrin That My Son Can Take That Will Help Please Let Me Know. He Will Be 15 Months Old October 09, 2016

    2. Charlotte Borthwick

      i’m not sure about all those medicines, best thing would be to ask your doctor about it, the one thing that I can recommend is natural remedies, start to give him things like smashed up watermelon, yoghurt and honey, lots of fruit however none that are citrus like oranges, kiwi things like that as that will irritate the sores, also try mashed potato and pomegranate juice, these will help with a quick easy recovery! Hope this helps!

  11. I think someone is feeding him something to sterilize him

  12. Hello I’m a parent of two (daughter-7 son-2). My son has HFM, but was wondering if I could take my daughter to a party she was looking forward to going to. I feel bad she has to miss it because her brother is sick. I’m just not sure she could have it or could pass it along. I’ve done my best of keeping them apart. I’ve been the one with him and cleaning and sanitizing. She’s not showing any symptoms (neither am I). He now has the rash so what I hear is its on its way out and not sure if that makes him contagious still. Anything would help. Thanks!!

    1. Mel yes he is still contagious until no fever and all sores are dried up and going away. It can take 6-7 days for any signs to appear if your daughter has had contact with him she may already have the virus and is just not showing any signs yet. Be careful taking her places as well as him. This is solely up to you. I hope he gets better and she does not catch it.. good luck we are battling this in our household as well my 4 year had it two weeks ago and now my 2 year just started it this weekend. we thought we were past it guess not yet.

  13. This post is great. I seem to be the first one to have it in our household…however, my son (22 months) had what we thought was severe teething pain and fever all last weekend and wouldn’t let us look in his mouth. He’s feeling better now, but I don’t see any new teeth! In hindsight, I’m wondering if he may have had sores or just a sore throat from HFM, because he wouldn’t talk, eat, or even swallow (he was saving saliva then drooling real bad). Then on Tuesday, when my fever and sore throat were kicking in, I was told by his childcare provider that they’d had a report from a parent about HFM. I went in to the doctor’s office today to have a strep test, which came back negative, and was told it’s likely just a viral thing. When I started getting little spots on my hands and feet later today, that feel like splinters, I started putting the pieces together. My concern now is not passing it back to my son or on to others.

  14. Someone please tell me what they gave their toddler when they had mouth sores. My 2 year old had the blisters Bon the hands, feet, bum and mouth

    1. Equal portions of Benadryl and Mylanta and use as mouth wash….Is amazing and numbs the mouth…It works for any sores and even from braces…If it’s a baby and they can’t spit, then use a Q tip and try to put in sores directly but use sparingly because it Has Benadryl in it and the Mylanta can back you up…

  15. My son has this currently and has unfortunately gave it to my husband and I. I was wondering if he could catch it back from us because he is starting to get better. I learned the best way to keep him hydrated if any of yall happen to be going through this if the child is formula fed put ice in their bottle replace water with Gatorade my son seems to love it and it’s helping to keep him hydrated.

  16. I have looked all over the internet for this answer, so I am hoping you can help. What is the best way to disinfect/sanitize soft items – such as stuffed toys. For hard surfaces they are recommending a bleach solution, but I don’t want to ruin the toys, can they be quarantined for a period of time in a garbage bag? Or just wash in hot water and dry cycle?

  17. Carol Gibbs-Beckett

    We’re pretty sure it has to be HFM … he does have some small blisters on his torso, bottom. Just strange he doesn’t have in mouth or any of the not feeling well symptoms! I understand that is supposed to proceed the rash. Haven’t taken him to doctor – know there’s nothing they can do for it. Watching carefully. Very difficult to keep him away from other kids! He loves playing all day outside with his neighbor friends and he feels fine :/

  18. Carol Gibbs-Beckett

    So weird…My grandson woke up yesterday with some small blisters on his hands and top of his feet. He showed no signs of lethargy, fevor or ANYTHING prior. It doesn’t appear to be getting worse. He has no sores in mouth or sore throat. He was complaining of his teeth hurting, daughter took him to dentist and he has a cavity. He didn’t mention or say anything about seeing anything. He is 5 years old, not in day care and we can’t figure out where he might have gotten it! He plays with neighbor kids but none have it. Strange! A mild case? Scared going to get it….they live with me . Lysoling everything! Trying to stay away from him, but that’s impossible! ❤️ Can he get this again or do they become immune?

    1. Carol Gibbs. I know this is a year later. What you are describing on your grandson sounds like a form of eczema that only shows up on hands and feet. It is usually genetic. My parents didn’t have it but my grandmother did. Now my siblings and I have that. It is usually stress induced or when hitting growth spurts. Use lotion to help keep it down. It is not contagious though. Good luck.

  19. O. M. Goodness! This brought back memories of a friend who’s son use to get it so easily. Fingers crossed this is the last time you have to deal with it!

  20. OMGosh!!! Poor baby! I have heard of this before, but really wasn’t sure what it was. Sorry you all are going through this! 🙁

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