Hand foot and mouth disease… this was new to me until November of last year. I wanted to share our experience with hand foot and mouth disease (also referred to as HFM) and also share what seemed to help us during the sickness since there is no treatment. I found a lot of suggestions online for helping find relief for babies with HFM, but I had such a terrible time finding tips for relief from ADULT Hand Foot and Mouth Disease. Obviously it’s all the same virus, but my case was MUCH worse than my daughter’s was.
First, my daughter all of a sudden didn’t seem to have an appetite. She also developed a fever, but I wasn’t sure what was wrong. The fever wasn’t too high, so the doctor recommended I didn’t bring her end unless something else popped up. After 1 week, she developed a rash on her legs that made me call the doctor back and take her in. Come to find out, she had hand foot and mouth disease. I had not been around this sickness before to really know what it was, or to know the beginning symptoms of the virus so that I could keep myself well. The pediatrician said there was nothing they could do, but once the rash popped up that it was nearing the end and we would just have to wait it out. That sucked. The pediatrician also said that we would likely not get it, that it was most common in children and we would probably be fine.
Well, Steven didn’t get it. But I did. And this was the worst sickness I have ever had, and the fact that I could not find hardly any information on the internet about adults having hand foot and mouth disease, is what sparked my inspiration for writing this.
So what is hand foot and mouth disease? HFM is an illness that causes sores in or around the mouth and on the hands, feet, and sometimes the butt and legs. The sores may be painful. The reason I didn’t think that Kendall might have HFM is because her rash was only on her legs, unless she had sores in her mouth that healed before I got her to the doctor. HFM is not the same as diseases that have similar names, such as foot and mouth disease, hoof and mouth disease, or mad cow disease. So don’t stress. You’re not gross if you get this…it’s viral and extremely contagious.
What is the cause of HFM? HFM is caused by a virus called an enterovirus. The virus is spread very easily and is highly contagious. It can be spread through coughing and sneezing, but also through infected stool, such as when you change a diaper. Apparently, it can take 3 to 6 days before a person gets symptoms of HFM after being exposed to it. This is the dangerous time, because you may be carrying it and be contagious but not even have any symptoms. I am so surprised that my husband did not get it.
What are the symptoms of HFM? According to WebMD, the first symptoms may include lethargy, sore throat, or a fever between 101 degrees and 103 degrees. Then in a few days, sores or blisters may appear in or on the mouth and on the hands feet and sometimes butt. In some cases, a skin rash may appear before the blisters do. The blisters may break open and crust over. GROSSSS.
How is HFM treated? This is the good part that I wanted to share with you today. The pediatrician gave me plenty of tips, but as an adult, I think that HFM can be worse. And any cases of HFM in adults were very hard to find on the internet when I was desperately searching for something that would help me. I searched the internet for hours and days trying to find relief, so I wanted to share with you the very few needles in a haystack that I found so that you didn’t have to do that same searching that I did.
There are no medications to help HFM, which is a huge bummer. I have never wanted medication more in my entire life as I did then. In fact, on Thanksgiving day I was in urgent care because I could not tolerate the pain in my throat and thought that I either had the flu or strep throat. I failed to mention that my daughter had had HFM, because I was told I wouldn’t get it, so they did not even look inside of my throat. But I must have had tons of blisters in my throat. I tested negative for the flu and strep throat before I realized what was happening. It had been almost 2 weeks since Kendall first came down with HFM, so because it had been so long, I did not even think that I might have it.
For children, although these things did not work for me at all, it was recommended to offer plenty of cool liquids to help with sore throat. Cold foods such as popsicles and ice cream were recommended. It was recommended to avoid spicy or acidic foods. And it was recommended to give Tylenol or Advil for pain and fever.
My symptoms were ten times worse than Kendall’s were. She only ever had blisters on her legs and very few on her hands and feet. When I say very few, I mean maybe 10 at the most. However, my throat was full of blisters, and I developed blisters all around my mouth, all over my hands, feet, legs, and my entire torso and butt. I had blisters everywhere on my body except for my arms. and when I tell you that these blisters were painful, I am highly under exaggerating. There were two days during this sickness that I could hardly walk. I could not use my hands to do anything because my skin was so tight and painful. This is when my desperate internet search was at its highest.
For my mouth sores, I was told to mix Maalox with children’s liquid Benadryl and swirl it in my mouth and spit it out. This was a challenge, because apparently Maalox isn’t being made currently. I ended up buying milk of magnesia and trying to mix that with the liquid Benadryl, but it literally gave me zero relief. Another thing I tried was cold foods, that did nothing. I tried Ibuprofen and Tylenol and that did nothing. Literally, the weirdest thing I found on the internet is what gave me the most relief. I found somewhere in the endless world of the internet a website recommending to soak your hands and feet, or wherever the blisters were that you could soak, in Greek yogurt. I had some plain Greek yogurt in the refrigerator, and in utter desperation I soaked my hands and feet in the yogurt for 10 minutes. Honestly, this is the only thing that helped give me any relief. Something about the yogurt cooled my skin, and the pain was almost gone the next day. I don’t know if I can attribute the pain being gone to the yogurt, or if it was coincidence, but it honestly did feel better very soon thereafter.
My hope is that you never experience HFM, because I have never been in so much pain. I literally felt like my skin was on fire. And it made me feel so badly for all the children that get HFM, especially as young as Kendall was because she cannot express the pain that she is in at that age. I hope that I felt a hundred times worse than she did because I would not ever wish that she would feel that much pain. But if you do unfortunately catch HFM, just try the Greek yogurt, as weird as it sounds. And it definitely feels gross squishing around in Greek yogurt, but I promise… you will be willing to try anything!
If you have any tips that I didn’t share… please share in a comment below!!