Our Experience with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

I am writing this post to spread the word about the recent epidemic of the Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD).

The thing with this viral illness is that most people do not even know they have it and continue to expose themselves to others. This causes a silent outbreak and spread of the virus. Though this disease is more common in infants and children, it is also possible for adults to acquire it.

photo from Wikipedia
A few weeks ago, my 2-year old daughter developed a fever that ran for two days. On the 2nd day of her fever, i noticed that she started to develop some red rash around her mouth. I initially thought this was just some sort of allergy.  I suspected that maybe her mouth was not wiped clean after her meals which could have caused the rash. I later on noticed that the rash looked like chicken pox sores. It sort of had blisters and she kept on scratching them so i knew they were a little bit itchy. She also started complaining of 'ouchy' inside her mouth on the same day. When i checked, i saw that she had one sore on her palate. This caused her to cry each time she was fed solid food.

On the 3rd day, she did not have fever anymore and was pretty active the entire day. The mouth sores were still there but it was not affecting her anymore. The only remarkable thing was that she would become very restless at night. She kept on waking up asking for water or milk and would cry each time she drank. 
I then remembered that a couple of my friends mentioned their kids having Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease
Dawn's hand
 (HFMD) last year. They said it was like chicken pox but isolated on the hands, feet, and mouth. They also mentioned about the kids getting fever for a short time prior to the rash.  I checked Dawn's hands and feet as soon as i suspected HFMD. And true enough, she had one red spot on her right hand. 
I looked it up on the internet and found that HFMD is indeed very common and also very contagious.  Incubation was said to be around 3-5 days from the time of exposure. Since i didn't know what Dawn had at the time of her fever, my entire family had already been exposed to her for a few days.

On the 4th day, my 5-year old son developed a fever. He then complained of sore throat and would also wake up crying in the middle of the night. He didn't have sores around his mouth nor spots on his hand and feet. It was just severe sore throat and high fever that lasted for 2 days. 

photo from Wikipedia
On the 5th day, my daughter's mouth sores dried up. My son said his throat felt a lot better and both of them didn't have fever anymore. The thing is, since i was the one taking care of both of them, i lacked sleep and my immune system was down. They say that HFMD usually only affects children but adults with weakened immune systems can also get infected easily. So, when my children started to get better, i started to feel worse. I developed high fever and severe sore throat. I couldn't eat anything except soup and porridge. I tried taking in some cereals but it only hurt my throat even more.  Later that day, i noticed sores on both my feet. I could hardly walk without experiencing pain. It felt like hundreds of pins and needles were on my feet. There were also little red spots on my hands and they felt very sensitive each time i try to close them to a fist. My fever only lasted a day but the sore throat and pain on my hands and feet lasted for about 5 days.

When i spoke with our pediatrician about this, she said that there is really an outbreak of HFMD now.  I can imagine why it would be an outbreak because (1) there is no vaccine for this virus yet, and (2) people are unaware of this disease. Sometimes we think it's the usual sore throat or rash and we continue to go on with our daily lives. Little do we know, we are already exposing other people to the virus.  It is important to note that even if it's called Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, the rash or pain does not always happen on all 3 areas. It can be isolated to just one area like in the case of my son who only had sore throat, or 2 areas like my daughter who only had mouth sores and rash on her hand.

Here are some things that i learned from our experience:

1. Ice is a soother! When the kids were crying from sores in the mouth or throat, i gave them ice. That relieved them of the pain somehow. I also made a lot of ice candies for them so that it's more fun to eat.  This also helps to keep them hydrated since my children found it painful to drink drink water on the first two days. Dens bought them jelly-ace for their snacks since they couldn't swallow biscuits or other hard snacks.

2.  Rest is gold.  Let them sleep as often as they can even during the day. We encouraged our 2 kids to keep sleeping and i feel that it has contributed to their faster recovery. 

3.  Isolate right away when you suspect HFMD. It's so hard when everyone in the family gets infected. Believe me! The advice on how long to isolate varies (you can read all the resource links below). For me, the safest route is to wait until all blisters have dried before exposing yourself.

4.  Frequent handwashing is your safest defense. This holds true for both the infected person to avoid further spread and those who are not infected to avoid contamination.

5. Soak the sores in Bayabas water. Bayabas or Guava leaves are often used as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, and antimicrobial herbal medicine. I don't often buy into these Filipino herbal cures but i was desperate enough to try it out. I asked our driver to go to Quiapo to buy some leaves since we didn't have access to any Guava tree. We boiled the leaves and soaked our infected hands and feet for a good 30 minutes. I was amazed. The sores were instantly better just after the first soaking. I did this again before going to sleep and twice a day for about 3 days after that. You can boil the same set of leaves twice and just discard after that.

Help educate others to avoid further spread. My husband kept saying 'Don't keep on calling it Hand, Foot, and Mouth like it's an animal's disease!  I understand where he is coming from because i had the same reaction the first time i heard about it. HFMD is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease which is a disease of cattle, sheep, and swine. These 2 are totally of different viruses and are not related at all. Humans don't get the animal disease and vise versa. So don't be ashamed to call it what it is. It's not an animal disease after all.

You can learn more about it in the following resource links:

Wikipedia -  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand,_foot_and_mouth_disease 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/index.html 
Children WebMD - http://children.webmd.com/guide/hand-foot-and-mouth-disease-topic-overview 
Patient.co.Uk - http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Hand-Foot-and-Mouth-Disease.htm 

Please spread the word and not the virus!


cheekeegirl  – (July 29, 2013 at 11:40 AM)  

Thanks for sharing about this Mommy Tiffany. It's a rare kind though I've heard this already.

Tiffany  – (August 15, 2013 at 8:48 AM)  

Miss Donata, it's a difficult disease to endure. We need to spread the word and let help educate people on this so that infected people will know to quarantine themselves.

morgan wilke  – (March 4, 2014 at 2:39 PM)  

I dunno if anyone still checks this thread but I am in desperate need of some advice so I am willing to try. My daughter is 11 months old and has HFMD, we didnt catch it till a week in so my girl just got some medication for the sores in her mouth. However because she is in the crawling walking stage she is touching everything and I mean everything. The problem is as soon as I disinfect something she retouches it. This wouldnt be so bad if it were just me but My oldest daughter is 3 and trying to tell her not to touch anything her sister does is a nightmare. I tried locking myself up with the little one but she got stir crazy in our bedroom within an hour and my 3 yr old got bored out in the living room all by herself. As a single mom I am at my wits end and could really use some advice. Is there any way to contain this so my 3 yr old doesnt get it because I dont want her in any pain seeing the small one with it is hard enough. My email is mkwilke@live.com if someone could give me a hand that'd be awesome thanks.

Tiffany B  – (March 5, 2014 at 9:56 AM)  

Hi Morgan, i already sent you an email. Thanks for reaching out!

Patricia Siojo  – (August 10, 2015 at 11:55 AM)  

Hi! After the blisters dried up did it leave marks/scars? Did you put something on it to relieve itching/pain?

Tiffany B  – (August 10, 2015 at 4:21 PM)  

Hi Patricia,

No scars at all. I did not put anything to relieve the pain on the hands and feet. The warm bayabas (Guava) water was my feet's solace. It wasn't so bad on the hands. For my kids' throat pain, i gave them ice chips.

Hope this helps!

kathy –   – (September 1, 2015 at 10:11 PM)  

Hi My 1yrand7month Old Son Has A Hfmd,dahil Sa blog Mo nalaman Ko Kung Gano Kasakit Yung Nararandaman Ng Anak Ko,akala Ko Nuon Makati Lang Siya,

annalisa.carlota  – (October 1, 2015 at 7:16 PM)  

hello tiffany, i know you wrote this post such a long time ago but i still wanted to say thank you (!) because your post was such a great help when i found out last weekend that i had hfmd. (a great counterpoint too to all the (unfortunately) more disturbing accounts of hfmd on other websites, cdc.gov, nhs.uk, etc.). i got hfmd from my nephew and, while his seemed mild, mine was not entirely so. the rash was not so bad but the sore throat (tonsils?) was awful and swallowing was pretty close to excruciating. i have never had as bad a sore throat in my life! i took your tip though and used ice chips. i had them at every meal. i would suck on the ice chips in between spoonfuls of food to help ease the pain of swallowing. drinking cool water in between spoonfuls helped a lot too. i also took your tip about the bayabas leaves and the soaks did make my hands and feet feel better. now it has been six days since this all started and the sore throat is practically all gone and the rashes have all flattened out. thank you very much again for sharing your experience with hfmd and i’m now looking forward to the peeling off that you mentioned in your follow up post. :) thank you!

Tiffany B  – (October 8, 2015 at 11:43 AM)  

Hello Annalisa,

Thanks for your feedback. Happy to hear the tips helped you. HFMD is really such a pain (figuratively and literally) but glad you're done with it.

The peeling should be easy and relatively pleasant. Think of it as exfoliating dry skin :)

Thanks again,

haden  – (January 31, 2017 at 6:28 PM)  

Yes, you are right young children have the higher risk of getting hand, foot and mouth disease. Risk increases if they attend daycare or school, as viruses can spread quickly in these facilities. Using home remedies to cure hand, foot and mouth disease is one of the best ways. I think this is very effective way by which we can easily manage this condition. I have also found a website disease related this condition 2 days ago. They have mentioned some easy and homemade remedies to cure this disease and I think if your child is also suffering from this condition, you should visit this website to get more and unique ways to tackle this condition.

Regina Regi  – (March 26, 2018 at 2:01 PM)  

Good information. It was really useful. looking forward for more useful information
Thank you.

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Becky  – (May 28, 2018 at 10:12 AM)  

I realize my comment is FIVE YEARS AFTER YOUR BOUT WITH HFMD, but my 3 year old granddaughter is suffering from this NOW! She spiked a high fever on May25th, today is the 27th and she's MISERABLE and so am I! We were on a week long vacation to Florida that started on the 20th of May, she became suddenly ill with a high fever,headache and vomiting. We took her to the local ER because I was terrified it was meningitis, and they tested for strep throat, but was negative. Dr. mentioned the "strawberry tongue" but never even told us she had red and white bumps in her throat and mouth!! I found that out on my own the same night when she complained on pain in her mouth and there they were! Doctor never gave us a diagnosis either, just treated her fever and nausea and sent us home! On Sunday the 27th, she started developing the "rash", if you can even call it that, these bumps on her hands and feet spread to the soles of her feet and palms of her hands, her face, arms, legs and buttocks, inside her nostrils,inside her mouth, between her leg creases as well within the 8 hour drive home! I was SHOCKED!! I can't get her to eat or drink anything and she will only accept "snow ice" ( ice, pulverized into "snow" in my blender) which I'm thankful for, as she's not eaten or hardly drank anything since Wednesday afternoon! My question is, should I take her to another doctor? She seems to have a severe case compared to what you've described you and your children experienced. I'm beside myself, as the doctors offices are all closed Monday, in America, due to "Memorial Day" and I wouldn't be able to get her any care until TUESDAY! She's so miserable and has restless sleep. She's fallen out of bed because she tosses and turns all night long, whimpers in her sleep, wakes crying, wanting a drink, but then isn't able to drink due to the pain]. My poor darling!! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Swetha Karthik  – (December 13, 2018 at 8:55 PM)  
This comment has been removed by the author.
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