When Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease ATTACKS!

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I recently spent about a week in hell. I really wouldn’t recommend it. Then again, it’s not like it really could’ve been helped.

You have a kid, right? Kids are gross. Like really, really gross. They share all kinds of disgusting germs with each other and then bring them home and spread them all over us. As if they have nothing to be grateful for. Kind of like one big middle finger shoved in our face. Actually, more like one big middle finger covered in burning, itchy, red pustules of fire and madness. No, wait, that’s not just one finger, it’s your whole hand. Plus, your other hand. And your feet. Oh wait, here’s just one more twist of the knife, there it is all around your mouth and inside your throat, too.

Welcome to a special place in hell, folks. It’s called Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease.

Oh, you thought only your kids can get Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease? Um, yeah, if only life were that kind. But no, you live in hell, remember?! And now you–a fully capable responsible self-sufficient adult–are reduced to nothing more than a screaming heap of rash and unbearable pain.

Okay, before this all gets too out of hand (and foot and mouth, just to be clear), here are the facts of my plight:

When Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease ATTACKS! | Denver Metro Moms Blog

A few weeks ago, I noticed my hands started to feel kind of like when you get a little paper cut and then you get salt in it. Know what I mean? Except not just one paper cut. This feeling was completely covering my hands. Nothing looked out of the ordinary, everything just felt pretty uncomfortable. Then I noticed one tiny bump. “Huh, that’s weird,” I thought. Then another. And then another. And before I knew it, my hands were completely covered in hard red bumps. Literally within hours my hands looked like I had stuck them in a hill of fire ants and just let those little jerks go to town. Hand Foot Mouth Disease was beginning to rear it’s ugly head.

Within two days my feet were completely covered, as was my throat and my chin and pretty much all around the outside of my lips. At this point, I’d tried all kinds of pain medication to offer even the slightest bit of reprieve. Here’s a short sampling: ibuprofen, topical anesthetic, dermoplast (aka, that stuff they give you at the hospital to spay all over your lady parts after you have a baby), hydrocortisone, benadryl, and finally a selection of other perfectly-legal-in-Colorado substances. There was no combination that even came close to touching the pain. The only thing that gave me just a hint of relief was sitting in the shower with my hands and feet submerged in buckets of ice until they went completely numb. Of course, after the blood returned and my body started to heal from my self-induced hypothermia, the pain came right along with it.

So, why am I telling you this? To warn you. You are not safe. You cannot hide from Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease.

When Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease ATTACKS! | Denver Metro Moms Blog

But also to tell you that you will survive Hand, Foo, and Mouth Disease.

It will certainly feel like the end of your life while you are in the throes of it, but you will live to see another day. Sure, the aftermath may or may not include entire sheets of dead skin peeling off your hands and feet, or all of your finger- and toe-nails falling off from the trauma of what they’ve just been through. So yes, you will look like a complete monster for several weeks or months afterward. But you will indeed be alive to tell the tale of your ghastly experience.

So, here’s my advice for you:  when your kid comes home from school covered in little red bumps from hell, just kiss him and get it over with. Then load up your Netflix queue, lock yourself away in quarantine, and just surrender to the reality that your life is going to suck for an indeterminate amount of time.

And when your family asks what’s going on, just tell them you have a date with the devil, and he goes by the name of Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease.

What about you? Have you had HFMD at your house? Share your horror stories in the comments below!

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Megan Lombardo is mama to two awesome kiddos, proud wife to a family medicine doctor, and a professional musician and piano instructor. She and her family lived in Denver for a handful of years before embarking on their current adventure in the mountain town of Salida. Megan will be focusing on helping your family find the easiest ways to experience all the hidden gems and lovely family-friendly excursions that you can get to within a short drive of the Denver metro area. One of the greatest things about Denver is its proximity to the mountains—so get out there and explore! When she’s not blogging, you can find Megan hiking around the Arkansas River valley, having a beer at a brewery while chasing her kids around, listening to music at Riverside Park with friends, playing music with her husband, or (still) ripping out carpet and tearing down wood paneling in her 1899 home in Salida. Megan is excited to connect with all of you!

45 COMMENTS

  1. 63 year old grandma who caught it from my 15 month old grandson – of course, his parents and brother did not get it. I live by myself, so it has been difficult to manage self care. Started off with headache and sore throat. At first thought I might have strep throat. Two days later I started developing red spots on my hands which rapidly went to blisters on my hands, feet, mouth, nose, chin and in my hairline. Living on Aleve, Tylenol, milkshakes and Sprite. Don’t think anyone realizes how difficult it is to use your hands or walk.

  2. My 26 year old son brought it home with him. I sprayed Lysol, used hand gels, etc… but still contracted it. I probably contracted it before we figured out that he had it. Our doctors were slow to recognize it in adults and it can be much more severe in adults from what I’ve read. They thought it could be Scarlet Fever at the onset and put me on antibiotics. We both had a sore throat with fever a couple of days before the rash breakout. About day three of the rash is the worst. You will not be a happy person at the time. My feet were so painful that I could hardly walk. It is a bad experience and the rash on my hands and face were pretty disgusting at their peak. My feet were the worst part with the burning, itching, and pins and needles pain. I even got sore nipples from it and I’m a dude. This disease can knock you out of circulation for days. It is Hell and there is not a cure once you have it but it will go away. I got some relief from prednisone pills and topical steroid crème. There’s a recent more severe strain of the Coxsackie virus out there and I suspect that’s what we had. Hang in there what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

  3. I have It right now … got it from my preschooler who brought it home last week and gave it to her brother so after nursing two kids through a very mild case of it i thought i was clear. A week later i get a fever and aches and then out of no where these lesions appear on my feet hands mouth and throat and I can barley swallow … then the pain sets in … like being stuck with needles all over your hands and feet inside cuts is what it feels like …. soo painful … this thing is no joke. I can hardly get dressed myself let alone take care of 3 kids. I’m just praying it passes soon cause I’m loosing my mind. I literally almost cried this am to my husband lol. Thank God my kids didn’t have it this bad. Now all the lesions are blistering and I’m wearing latex gloves to keep from spreading it. Just horrible. Can’t wait for it to be over – so glad you survived lol there is hope lolz

  4. Oh man. I’m in NC here typing this out on the blistered tips of my fingers. Thanking God my 6 month olds case wasn’t a fraction as bad as mine. Adults do get this and it’s horrible! Nothing would be scarier to the little kids than handing out candy on Halloween with a hand covered in blisters. Think we’ll be turning off the porch lights this year and sparing the neighborhood!! All tricks here, no treats in sight.

    • Man I thought this was a handful of problems. First, I started developing a really bad headache about Tuesday of this week. Then, that night I had a fever which burned me up! The next day and today, I started noticing that the fever started to fade away, but my throat was really sore. Every time I tried to swallow, it was just painful. The only thing that is helping me is the tylenol every 6 hours! Now, I’m starting to develop these painful red spots around my fingers and feet, I really hope it doesn’t spread too much, because I need to use my feet!! Let alone hands! Ahhh, I hate this!

  5. Hi…my 15 month old as hfmd and it looks awful!!! He’s on day 7 and most of the blisters are scabbing (did any of yours leave scars???) well 2 days ago i got a 103 degree fever and went to the doctor and they diagnosed me with strep…well last night my feet were insanely itchy and dry feeling and now my finger tips are super tight and burning!!! Is this what i think it is???!!! I have tried disinfecting my house as much as possible but my son is also teething and drooling on everything 😑…please tell me there’s relief

  6. Megan — Four years ago, our son broke out in the blisters the day of his first birthday (SO SAD!!!), and our daughter contracted it four days before we had movers coming last week. I basically allowed her to eat nothing but smoothes and ice cream, and it’s a miracle I don’t have it (she’s been living ON me)!

    I think of you and this post whenever I hear about HFMD . . . or have it ravaging our house at the most opportune times. It is seriously the WORST.

    • Oh man, worst timing ever! ‘Tis the season for the recurrence of HFMD and seriously every time I hear that anyone has it I go into what feels like full-on PTSD mode! I always tell people if I had the choice to do unmedicated labor while laying on a bed of legos OR HFMD, I’d pick that labor ANY DAY. That sh*t is no joke!

  7. Our family went through this. I got it easiest, my husband naturally got it worst plus strep because he works that hard and is an overachiever.

    I was the last to get it, and I am on biologics for autoimmune disease, so I could have been way worse. But every time I stood up and could feel the pox on my soles, I repeatedly stated, “But this is so weird!!” It just is like nothing I’ve experienced. I had it in 2016 and I wonder if it affects people like shingles- my soles are burning and swollen- probably just plantar fasciitis.

    I bought gloves on amazon- the white cotton kind you see them use on Antiques Roadshow, so people didn’t need to see it and we could worry less about spreading it. It was just a spark of an idea. It worked out really well. This virus is seriously no joke, though, it can cause encephalitis, heart disease….

    So if someone in your home starts saying it feels weird on their palms or soles, get ready! Oh- and I had no pox on my mouth. I had them up my nose, EW.

  8. It is reassuring to read this blog and to feel comforted by people’s experiences. I thought i was nearing the end of my HFMD. It started with a high fever which I dismissed as the flu and then the weird prickly red tiny blotches on my finger tips appeared the next day. By day 3 my the soles of my feet were covered. Walking was extremely painful as the blisters where clustered around my heels and toes. The worse was the swelling of my feet and toes which made it difficult to distinguish between the burning pins and needles sensation and the pain of the skin being tightly overstetched over my toes. Luckily didn’t have any sores around or inside my mouth however after a week I still had this low grade sore throat. I am at day 6 of the blisters and sores and I thought I was on the upswing until this morning when I noticed a canker sore on my gums. I am rarely exposed to children at work and I believe I have been over worked and stressed thus causing a weakened immune system. I can’t wait for the shedding of the dead skin as my feet will be hit the hardest. Cheers

    • So no effect on your hands? Only feet? Isn’t this just the worst disease?! Every year at the beginning of school I have a ton of anxiety that I might contract this terror again. Hope it is all cleared up for you!

      • We are in the middle of hand, foot, mouth disease right now. My son brought it home from daycare. The poor little guy has been puking and so lethargic for a week now. Today is the first day he hasn’t thrown up from coughing because of the throat sores. Two days ago, I started with a high fever, weakness, and a horrible sore throat. The next day, The blisters started and my throat just got worse. I can barely swallow. My fingernails and finger tips are hurting horrible. Now that my fever is gone, my little guy’s dad has started his fever and sore throat. It is the most uncomfortable illness I think I’ve been through. I’m so scared about losing nails. Is it possible, since we are all sick at different stages, to reinfect my little guy and start this whole miserable week from hell all over again?

        • Oh Lori, how awful! I don’t think it’s possible to reinfect your family members, especially in such close succession. However, I wouldn’t put it past HFMD–that jerk-disease is a BEAST and will stop at nothing to destroy the whole world, I’m convinced. But seriously, once you guys get it, I think it’s safe to say it’s over. My husband is a family doctor and says you should have life-long immunity after one bout of it. However, like I said before, HFMD I think may just be above the medical system. I trust no one. 😉

        • It is the absolute worse thing to go through, I read adults only get mild symptoms, Wrong! I literally thought I was going to die, and wanted to. Couldn’t walk or use hands for over a week, cant even describe the intensity of the sore throat, trying to eat? Yeah right. Body pains and aches, death fever, and pain everywhere. This lasted almost 2 weeks, 2 weeks of absolute hell. But it wasnt over. I lost every single finger nail and toe nail. It was 9 months later when my last toe nail fell off. 9 months later and still paying the price of getting the evil virus. Screw nuclear war, bottle this stuff and that’s all you need to win a war.

  9. So my little cousin came over my house. I didn’t notice till the next day she had black spots in her palms and was peeling her skin off her thumb. I told her father to ask the mother what it was. She wouldn’t tell us so I googled it and boom hand foot and mouth. I started to freak out. I have a 6 yr old 3 yr old and 3 month old. She was around them, played with every toy and slept in the same bed. Next morning she got poop on my floor(she is a potty trainer) I put on glove to get it up but her father as lazy as it’s cleaning up the residue. I told the father he needs to find out what it is or she needs to go home. So after 2 days of being exposed, they left and I remained with no answers. 3 days later I am having burning in my feet I thought it was athletes feet but the burning is continuing and when I flash a light from my phone on my hands I can see red blotches and possible blisters. Am I he ring hand foot and mouth or is my mind playing tricks on me?

  10. I’m only 12 and I have this, and No one understands how bad it hurts, my mom said to read some stuff on it so h here I am, this is going to help a lot. I can’t walk because of how bad my feet hurt, I can’t swallow or eat, my little sister gave it to me and I feel so bad for how she must have felt, I think I have it worse though, she only had it for 3 days with just a few dots. Me on the other hand saw that there was bumps on my hand one day, woke up the next crying in pain, with hundreds of burning red dots all over my hands and feet. IT HURTS SO BAD!

    • Oh Abrielle, I’m SO SORRY you had this experience! How did the rest of the infection go? I hope it healed up quickly and that you are well on your way to recovery now! You are right to think of how terrible it must be for the little kids like your sister! Can you imagine?? Did your parents get it?

  11. I just now got it after having the stomach flu. So far I’ve gotten a few blisters here and there on my hands and feet. Lots in my mouth to make it hard to swallow. My question is when aren’t you contagious and can go back to work?

    • Oh man, the stomach flu and then HFMD?? That’s the worst! What a double bummer! Hope you healed up quickly and that neither afflict you again!

    • How long did the intense itching last for you all? I’m in the heat of this now and can’t sleep at all 😩- worried how I will continue to take care of my son for the next week. This is so awful. Agree- would choose childbirth any day over this.

  12. Going through hell right now! Right before Christmas! I’m hoping that it clears up before we have family over on Christmas Eve. Imine started at a stomach flu then I went back to the doctors and they told me I had this and strep throat caused by the HFMD . Can’t wait till this is gone!

  13. Hi, I know I’m late to this post, but it’s been over a month since I had it. I am so freaked out about losing my nails! My big left toenail came off and now I have two finger nails the looks like they are going to come off too. Did anyone else experience this? Also, this is super disgusting but the bottoms of my feet became really hard and tough and are still peeling. Please tell me I’m not the only one who is suffering like this. The best advice I can give to anyone is to use ice packs while the blisters are inflamed and my doctor prescribed 800mg of ibuprofen and some Benadryl for at night. Also after the blisters went down, I began to constantly moisturize my hands and feet with Aveeno daily moisturizing lotion! It definitely helps to stay moisturized during the aftermath!

    • Oh Jill I understand how terrible losing your nails is! I had the same experience with my HFMD–finger and toe nails all peeled off in some form or fashion. Also, my skin peeled off my feet in SHEETS (gross!) which freaked me out for sure! But silver lining, it was sort of like a free pedicure…?!? Hope you never have to deal with this again!

  14. This is literally HELL!!!!!! My 2 year old son is almost over the blister stage and I’ve just begun the blister stage whilst 4 and a half months pregnant.. kill me now! The burning pain, the insane itchiness and the fact that no one in the pharmaceutical industry has created a cream or medication to help just really pisses me off! I would literally give hundreds of dollars to someone right now if they could make the burning and itching stop. Day 3 for me and counting…cannot sleep! I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy!!!! Thank you for the post so I knew I wasn’t alone in this madness I’m currently experiencing!!

    • Yes, you’re right! Literal hell! It is the worst. I felt the same away about modern medicine–my husband is a doctor so I was like “for sure this dude has some good drugs”. NOPE. Not a thing. I mean I tried EVERYTHING and, you’re right, there is nothing. How is that possible??? Hang in there, mama! You’ll survive this!

    • Ack! Same exact boat as you. I have a two year whom I believe I got HFMD from and currently 4 1/2 months pregnant. Worst part is my husband got it too and all he does is whine all day. DUDE I am going through the same sh*t as you while carrying our 2nd child, caring for our two year old AND you. So stop freaking whining!!!!

    • OMG It’s as if I had written this comment myself!!! Keep saying I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone. I’d trade this freaking virus for a stomach bug anytime!!!! Can’t believe nobody has developed a vaccine for this b***tch. Someone please do some research, stat!!

  15. I’m fairly certain I’m about day 1 or 2. I’m still music my little one ergo has had it for a free days now. I have the blisters on my nipples.. Its excruciating.

  16. My daughter currently has this, and now I am pretty certain that I am getting it too. She got it from daycare. I have read on the internet that only adults with weakened immune systems get it, which is strange because I consider myself to have a strong immune system. I guess maybe I’ve just exposed myself to it too much from being around her. I’m starting to get small bumps on my hands and I’m worrying what is coming next.

  17. I am suffering with this also…I’m over the horrible fever and the rash has started, so far just on my hands. No sleep at all, the burning itch is so intense! My 18m son had it first, and my daughter and husband are in the fever/sore throat stage…my house is going to be the pit of hell soon…

  18. I’m dealing with this RIGHT NOW! And I don’t even have a kid. I have no idea where mine even came from. It started on Thanksgiving night. I began watching a movie. By the time it ended I had a horrific fever and was breaking out. The next day I went to urgent care and was told I had this. I’m on day 4ish and I’m in hell. My pharmacist has me on a non drowsy antihistamine during the day, Benadryl at night, and urgent care gave me a liquid compound made up of Lidocaine, Benadryl, and Maalox. I hope this goes away soon. I’m supposed to meet some friends in NYC on Dec 6 and I don’t want to be covered in spots and blisters OR scars! I pray it heals and I don’t give it to anyone. This is awful!

    • I hope it heals fast for you, Rob! Try to think of it this way–if you lose your finger nails and all your skin peels off like mine did, at least your friends will think you are a total bada** for living to tell the tale! You got this! Hang in there!

      • I’m going through this RIGHT NOW! It is absolutely horrible! So hold on, ALL of your finger nails and toe nails fell off??? What day in the cycle of things did that happen? Like weeks after?

        • I can’t remember exactly what days it happened, but it was the last step of things. Maybe 2-3 weeks after the initial blistering? It was CRAZY! and the skin on my hands and feet peeled off in sheets! Hope it runs its course quickly for you!!

  19. Hi! Just curious – were your hands kind of numb before the rash showed up? My little guy had HFM right now and my hand has been bothering me (tingly and uncomfortable) all day. Am I about to be in hell????

    • Hi Corinne,

      I hate to break it to you, but my answer is yes. Before it started it kind of felt like when you get a paper cut and then sweat into the cut…or when you get lemon juice in a cut. A burning sensation. Hopefully, you just have a paper cut that you got some salt in! If not, just remember you’ll live to tell the tale. Best of luck!

  20. I’m on day two of this diseased I consider hell. I never would’ve imagined not being able to feel my hands or feet because they burn so bad!!! And the sensitivity to temperature and touch is incredible. Already have cleared a week off from both jobs in hopes that is all it’ll take to get back on my feet. I have blisters insanely all over my face and the red spots covering my hands,feet and throat. I honestly rather go into a coma until this goes away!!! I went through a nearly bursting apendix and I thought that was painful!!! Lack of sleep the past 2 nights due to fevers AND irritability. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. If you have this, good luck…

  21. I’m in it right now. This is literally hell. My hands and feet feel like I lit them on fire and they itch like mad. Did all your bumps turn to blisters? If so, I’ll have well over 100 blisters per hand. I’m going on night 3 of this… 8 haven’t slept the past 2 because of the burning and itching. And you are right… No amount of medicine is making this any more bearable. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Glad to hear there is a light at the end of this pitch black tunnel. Still looking for it…

  22. This article makes me so happy!! I too, endured this hell last December. In my opinion, it was worse than childbirth… Especially because you really are reduced to a whining heap of burning, itchy flesh. Almost a year later, I still have a few scars on my wrists and fingers as a reminder of this dark time in my life ?

  23. Yes! I am one of the other unfortunate adults capable of catching this childhood disease and came down with it earlier this year. The worst part is IT LASTS FOREVER! Also, I got hit the worst INSIDE my mouth… those little ulcers… ahhhhh. the worst pain. Only calmed by McDonalds milkshakes. I survived on those for a full week. I hope I never get it again… THE WORST!

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