Surviving Adult Hand Food & Mouth

There seems to be this tale out there that adults can't get Hand Foot & Mouth Disease, well that's just a lie. I for one have a tendency to pick up "childhood diseases" in adulthood. Well let me share my cautionary tale of HFMD and how I survived the worst pain of my life, it was worse than being in labor, and because there is very little online about adult HFMD and my doctor didn't believe me at first.


Rewind to two Saturday's ago when little ole Harrison saw my Camelback bottle on the counter and took it. He has a thing for stealing my cups. That evening he had a very low fever, 100, and the next day he looked like he had a ant bite on his foot.

I thought nothing of it because we had been playing outside, and little boys are always covered in bumps and bruises. The sitter kept saying that he was in a foul mood all week at her house though, and that's completely unlike him. By Wednesday I noticed the "any bites" were covering the bottom of his feet, so ding ding ding... I realized it was HFMD. The next it started clearing up an all was right in the world again.

Or so I thought.

Thursday I had a sore throat, nothing big though because my allergies are always bothering me. I cleaned the mess out of the house and thought we were done with HFMD, little did I know that incubation period is nearly a week.

Friday (Day 1 HFMD) - I woke up not feeling well but wanted to have a last day of fun before school started so I loaded up the baby for a trip to Whole Foods. I didn't feel great but by the time I got home I was very dizzy and my appetite was gone. About 5pm I hit the freezing cold stage of developing a fever and couldn't warm up, still didn't have a fever though when I took it. I had Jeremy put the baby down and I soaked in a hot tub to try to stop shaking.

Bad idea.

That combined with laying on a heating pad to warm up shot my temperature up to 104.3 (at the highest) and it took several hours to get it back down.

Saturday (Day 2 HFMD) - I woke up with a low fever and throughout the day a painful spot started to develop on my thumb.

Sunday (Day 3 HFMD) - I woke up around 2am and in incredible pain with my hands covered in blisters and red spots, and didn't go back to sleep. Nothing helped and hot water made it hurt worse. I took a lot of Benadryl and ibuprofen to decrease the pain and irritation but it did nothing to help. Sunday night I literally slept 30 minutes but would wake up in pain again quickly. The only thing that would slow the pain was to cover my hands in ice packs.

Monday (Day 4 HFMD) - After not sleeping and staying covered in ice packs continuously, my feet started to show a few spots. Literally 2 on each foot. I couldn't take it anymore and went to the doctor, he didn't believe me at first but after hearing me out and looking at everything he agreed I contracted the lovely adult version of HFMD. Joy. I was given a prescription for Lortab and Prednisone.

Now I've read the one blog out there that discusses this virus in adults and a few commenter's said that Prednisone made there's worse, it has actually helped mine. My doctor gave it to me because he said that in adults HFMD can get worse rapidly and cause inflammation in the heart or brain. If I got any worse than I was in the office that day he said I had to come back in, he basically said a nice hospital stay would be in my future. Honestly though my ice pack had warmed up at his office and I was dying from the pain, had he suggest an IV I would have gladly have taken it. Sedation would have been amazing.

But I digress, pain med...

They helped, but don't think it's a cure. Lortabs only made it bearable. I could endlessly watch TV in a medicated haze, but I was still hurting more than I was in labor without an epidural when I removed an ice pack. When I asked what we could do for pain, even though the doctor had given me a hard core pain prescription... he said really only numbing it with ice would help.

So I "slept" with ice packs tied to my feet and held one in my hands. I got up about every hour to get a new ice pack, but I still didn't sleep.

Also, the blisters moved from just my hands and feet to my nose, one on my ear, and a few on my scalp. The sores on my feet had multiplied and hurt to walk on them at this point. There were also a few random blisters on other areas of my body.

Tuesday (Day 5 HFMD) - I was still wanting to die, but was managing the pain much better by taking a Lortab and a Benadryl every 4 hours on the clock. If I missed it by 5 minutes from napping I would wake up writhing in pain. For the most part I slept a lot during the day because of the meds, but anything to make up for not sleeping since Saturday was welcome. I also finally figured out a lotion combo I was happy with  for keeping my skin moist enough that it wasn't contributing to the insane itching and pain. (I'll post those below)

Wednesday (Day 6 HFMD) - I slept all night, better than I've slept in a long time and the last Lortab I took was at 10pm on Tuesday. I was absolutely shocked that I woke up pain free and that I had even slept, especially after sitting in the bathroom soaking my feet in cold water for several nights. I'm still pretty itchy, but it's manageable with lotion and creams. The swelling has started going down and I can touch things again, for instance I can type but I can't hold a pen. Opening jars or any real pressure on my hands is unbearable. The swelling in my feet has started to go down as well. I'm coming this as far as how it feel today as going from being consumed by fire ants to just having them walk all over you. It a very irritation, very constant itching sensation that you can't scratch because that will just make this even worse.

A few of my finger nails have a lot of pressure in the nail bed and I'm afraid I'll be losing those nails. For about 3 months down the road you continue to recover from what the blister did to you, that being that skin comes off in chunks and you stand the risk of entire nails falling off.

I just can't wait.

I'll keep updating this post as time goes by and I get to experience the rest of the symptoms healing, however nasty they happen to be. Snapchat seems to be where I post the most nonsense on the matter if your curious.

To wrap this up for today, here are my survival products for HFMD:::

Now were all these suggested by my doctor, no. But in the interest of not sleep for 24 hours straight and soaking your feet in freezing water at 2 am --- you'll really try anything. This worked for me, or at least made me feel like something was working. Also, there are a few products not listed...


To start with the items in the photo, here's what they are and how I used them.

1. Eucerin Skin Calming - I slathered this all over anything that itched, I also combined it with items 10, 8, and 6 before applying gloves to my hands and socks to my feet. The more moist your skin si the better.

2. I used Q-tips to apply petroleum jelly to my lips and nose in an attempt to keep from contaminating all of my products. I also won't be wearing makeup for a few days in the interest of not contaminating my makeup.

3. Benadry is your best friend, it will either knock you out for a minute so you don't think you're dying or it will just ease the itching. Either way, I took this every four hours on the dot for a few days.

4. My beloved classroom "please don't get me sick" room spray got an upgrade. I used 1/3 water, 1/3 white vinegar, and 1/3 rubbing alcohol with 5 drops of Thieves Essential Oil and 5 Purify (from Eden's Garden) as a spray that I could put on things I didn't want to use bleach on.

5. Surgical gloves are your best friend. Not only does it hurt to touch things, it hurts when things touch you. Plus I found that the barrier made holding ice packs a little less uncomfortable. This will also keep your lotion and cream mixture in place longer. Plus the gloves keep from spread the virus further, but let it be know (as per the doctor) that the virus spread more though feces and spit more than it does the blisters. As long as your blisters are oozing they are contagious, but you are more likely to get this from drinking after someone than by touching what they touched. Hence, the baby gave it to me because I am the main diaper changer and he takes my cup (which he never will again).

6. Curacaine, I mixed this into my skin slave creation from #1 but according to my doctor creams like this won't really work. His reasoning is that the pain isn't caused in the nerves but is just a skin issue so it can't be treated like shingles. Now that I'm to the itching phase I see this helping more. But really the only thing that will numb the pain is a prescription pain killer, sorry.

7. Cotton balls were my friend when it came to applying #9 & 11 to my skin. Hear me out on these but I don't think you'll like the idea. I started getting spots on my nose that oozed some weird yellow liquid and read that someone used peroxide to help that... so I cleaned the area with peroxide. Now here's where I'm sure you'll turn your nose up, I stared having a few blisters come to a head and wanted to speed up the process at 1AM one night. I sterilized a needle and used it to gently pop the spots that were about to bust, then I used my zit popper tool to get the liquid out (also sterilized) and then doused the area in rubbing alcohol. You might think that would hurt but I'm here to say that the amount of pain I was in at the time meant that I couldn't even feel it. Promise. I swear to you by getting whatever was in that blister out of it, it felt better because the pressure what taken off of my skin.

8. Cortizone 10, again like #6 it helps with itching but you won't notice it's helping until the pain goes away.

9, 10, & 11. I think I already discussed them with what they were used for... so moving on.

Like I said in the post my doctor prescribed me Prednisone and Lortabs, I suggest you go to the doctor as soon as your sure it's HFMD. Since adults don't really get this you might have some push back, I read several comment from moms who got this from their child and had a hard time getting diagnosed. But the sooner you get meds the happier you'll be.

Also, ice packs, with constant use and not wanting to waste ice I used all the ice packs I keep in my lunch box for work (I know eww) and made a few of my own. The homemade version actually lasted much longer than several of the store bought ice packs. To make your own get fill a zip top freezer bag with a few cup of ice and add in about 1/4 cup of rubbing alcohol. Seal and put the bag inside another freezer bag to ensure it won't bust on you. When I initially made this one it lasted from 8pm to 2am.

Cold Epsom Salt baths are perfect to relieving the pain and itching, just soak your hands and feet though. I can't stand cold water. I did this several times a day and it really helped when I was out of my mind with pain and couldn't figure out how to make it stop.

Oh and how am I forgetting the mother of all HFMD cures - Magic Mouthwash - this will come in handy when your throat is in the same state your hands are in. I used this Sunday morning and was able to eat again that afternoon. It numbs your mouth like nothing I've ever seen before.

Magic Mouthwash - 
1 tsp benadryl
1 tsp milk of magnesia

Combine, gargle really good, & spit. You can swallow just a tad, but don't drink the stuff. I preferred spitting and then swallowing what was lingering around my mouth. 

I hate to say this, but what didn't work for me was all the essential oil cures people use on their kids according to Pinterest. I even think it made it a bit worse. I was actually in so much pain after using the essential oil mixed with coconut oil idea Sunday that I finally decided that washing my hands wasn't enough and I stood in the shower rubbing Dove soap all over me to get it off. That actually made the burning go away. So please, for the love, don't use essential oils on your kids for this virus. Kids can't articulate enough that they are on their death bed to tolerate the pain this is going to cause. And don't tell me to use lavender, all of it sucked. Harsh? Yes. But it sucked. 

If you think I'm just bashing oils, think again, I own a bunch and have used them for years... but a virus with open sores is not the place to get all hippie holistic. 

Like my doctor said, the only thing that really works is ice and time. Cover the sores in ice packs and pray a lot that it will pass quickly.

If you want to chat about this or have questions, bring them on, I'd love to chat in the comments below! Also, if you want to see progress pics let me know, I didn't initially put them up because it's so bad. I'm only on day 6 and healing time is typically 10 days, so I'll continue to update this. I'm just finally pain free enough to type again and go back to work tomorrow.