Hand Foot and Mouth is No Joke (And Adults Can Get It)

This might be a little outside the realm of normal conversation  but I assure you that what you see here will freak you out.



Hand Foot and Mouth disease (HFMD) is a Coxsackievirus that was discovered in 1948/1949 and named after Coxsackie, New York where the first fecal specimens of the virus were discovered. It is common in children and rarely poses a threat to them or crosses the blood/brain barrier. It can be transmitted via saliva, feces, and the blister fluids. On Sunday I took my daughter to a birthday party at a children’s museum where, unbeknownst to me, there happened to be a teeming cauldron of Coxsackievirus A16. My daughter started showing symptoms on Wednesday and by Thursday had significant blistering all over her body. I was unaffected until Friday at roughly 10:30 AM.



10:30 I start to feel uncomfortable, I know something is coming on. I finish work a little early and at 3:30 come home to take a nap, which is out of character for me. By 5pm I’m running a 102 fever and feel as though I have the flu. I feel like eating Chinese food which is the last meal I will eat for almost a week.



Saturday 00:30 Hours

I have slept probably a total of 1 hour since 9 pm. My fever maxes out near 103 throughout the night. The fever comes on and breaks 4 different times, by 0400 I’m praying for daylight to come. I finally fall asleep around 0530 and wake up at 0700.

I go to work at 1000 where I’m fatigued, and have aches and pains. Around this time I start to notice a very scratchy throat and wish that I had eaten breakfast. I come back home at noon where I’m able to take two naps during the afternoon. Throughout the day my fever never exceeds 100 and for the most part is a non issue. By dinner my throat is so sore I can do nothing other than eat soup and drink warm tea. My daughter has fully recovered by this point.



This is where the real fun begins. I sleep pretty well without a fever, but the pain in my throat is relentless. Physically I feel fine and do some things around the house thinking that aside from my sore throat I was in the clear. At 1600 I look at my hands and notice the first faint signs of HFMD.

HDFM Sunday Left HDFM Sunday Right

HDFM Sunday Foot



Game on. I am up throughout the night as the blisters become worse and start to itch. I spend 3 hours in the middle of the night researching HFMD and possible treatments. Some say adults can’t get HFMD, everyone else says there are no treatments, I then find this. It wasn’t the most robust study but at this point I don’t care. Within hours I find a doctor to reluctantly write me a script for Acyclovir. By noon my blisters have progressed to what I considered at the time to be DEFCON 1. I have scabbing around my nostrils that peels, bleeds, scabs and repeats every couple of hours. I apply Crisco to keep the wound moist. I acquire the Acyclovir by mid-afternoon and immediately start the recommended dosage.

Left Hand MondayFinger MondayFoot MondayFace MondayNose Monday



Dear God have mercy on my soul. My nose condition is unbearable, I’m constantly applying Crisco to keep it moist (Vaseline causes significantly more scabbing). My throat is still so sore I am not eating solid foods or drinking anything other than warm tea. My wife makes me some soft scrambled eggs that I am able to eat with significant discomfort. My blistering becomes more intense throughout the day and my feet are the more painful than any other day so far, making it laborious to walk around.

Right Hand Tuesday
Tuesday Night

Feet Tuesday Medial Foot Tuesday


Tuesday Evening

By this point Acyclovir has been in my system for 24 hours, the earliest timeframe mentioned in studies for positive effects to be seen. I take my 3rd oatmeal bath of the day and notice some changes in the blistering. By 1900 hours my hands have changed from the above images (taken roughly 1300 hours) to these. Some of the white blistering seems to have dissipated and blistering in general appears to be starting to undergo resolution. I’ll save everyone the photographs of my ugly unshaven face but yes, the nasal blisters are still very much a part of my discomfort.

Evening Hands Evening Hands 2



I awoke and felt stronger than I had in days though my throat was still sore. My rash marks are becoming slightly more faint by this point (at least I think so) and I’m hoping this will be my last day with breakfast tea for a while. Fingers crossed.
Wednesday AM

By mid afternoon there is no question that I am on the path to recovery. My throat is starting to become more bearable, I even consumed tap water with minimal discomfort which made hydrating myself much easier than it had been for days. I arrive home from work and know that I can swallow food again. My hands are looking even less disgusting but only by a small degree…I’m told.

I ate mac ‘n cheese for dinner, it was wonderful. I even added the 2T butter for the “richer flavor” as described on the box. Afterwards I felt so good I went to Dairy Queen where even the extreme cold of ice cream couldn’t bother my throat and I washed it down with my evening Acyclovir. At this point I’m unstoppable.

IMG_5786 IMG_5789 IMG_5790 IMG_5792



The virus is going to lose this battle. The blisters are resorbing, my throat is improving daily, though its progress is much slower than I would hope. I don’t feel a need to continue the updates but will take photos if and when I lose my finger/toenails. I’ve heard that can happen up to a month after the infection subsides and so I wait, full of apprehension, as one would imagine.

Final Hand


Note: By April 1 I still had residual blotching on my hands and my feet were still peeling from the autoimmune reaction I was having to the antibodies. I have started to lose one of my fingernails, the nail near the cuticle is beginning to peel and while painless, it looks pretty nasty. 


  1. Amelia

    Oh my I have this right now! The blistering around my nostrils is just awful and the pain and itching from the rash is terrible . All over my hands, feet and inside of my mouth. I’m on day 3. I am 24 years old. I haven’t even heard of. a child having it as bad as me. I thought I was alone in having it this bad as ana adult untill I saw this post.

    1. Sophia Dunn

      I HAVE IT RN! i’m 18 and it’s awful. my baby cousins had it and everyone told me i couldn’t get it but here i am with a fever and itchy blisters everywhere including inside my mouth and around my nose.

  2. Alice

    Thank you for sharing. I am a 36 yr old woman in the UK who had exactly the same progress though less of a fever and less blisters, but still very painful. Went to the doctor today and she diagnosed it immediately as she had it earlier this year! She prescribed me an antibiotic cream that has really helped my nose to start healing immediately, though it still itches a lot. Be careful not to touch your face or other areas too much, as I have some blisters in and around my ears from that. I still need to rest but I’m getting better. Such a strange illness.

  3. Aaron

    Glad I found this. I keep finding contradicting information online and people saying ‘it’s not bad’ or ‘there are usually no symptoms in adults’. Your progression with this seems to be almost the same as mine. I’m on day 5 now and still unable work due to sore, stiff hands and feet.

  4. John

    Nate, thank you very much for putting this blog post together (and keeping it online). I tested positive for strep throat on Monday (and was given antibiotics). Tuesday was better, but my throat still hurt and my left nostril was very sore. This morning (Wednesday) I woke up after a miserable night of “sleep” and found spots and several blisters on my hands. After some frantic google searches I found this posting. Within an hour I was at the doctor, who gave me some stronger antibiotics for the strep, prednisone (because my throat was extremely swollen and she was worried I might have trouble breathing), and Acyclovir (after reading the PubMed post). I took all three drugs at 9am this morning, and I’m hoping my recovery is as quick as yours seemed to be because…. this….. SUCKS!

    For others reading this… I believe the nose blisters first and after those blisters open you end up with open sores around your nose which continuously scab and dry up (which is torture). I’m putting Hydrogen Peroxide on any blisters that open. Ugh!

  5. Stan

    Dude I feel your pain. My son was sent home from school on Thursday with HMFD. On Thursday, I was convinced I had the flu. It’s now Saturday, and my nose is killing me. My face is disgusting, and I can hardly bend my fingers. I’m so ready for this to be over.

  6. Brandi

    I’m almost 30 and I just got this and I’ve never heard of it honestly. I started with fever then bumps and then bumps gotten worse on day two then my feet and I’m on day 3 right now almost in day 4 the pain is so horrible. I’ve tried everything to relieve the pain. My daughter is 4 and she hasn’t gotten this and she’s not showing any signs like I did so maybe she’s out of the woods.

  7. Msamaan

    I am currently going through HFMD and it’s soo painful! My 8 month old had it a week ago and this past Friday I had a fever of 102.7 and saw spots in my throat. Totally thought I had Strep! Yesterday I began breaking out all over the center of my face, nose and lips with blisters that look like cold sores and thought I had shingles. Went to a walk in clinic and confirmed it was HFMD. I don’t know how infants can go through these. My little one got over it in 2 days and I’m already on day 3 and in so much pain!

  8. Jorge Canovas

    Oh. My. Goodness, man. I am currently experiencing this ordeal, verbatim. Also, I believe we are of similar age? (28M.) The only thing that I haven’t experienced are the heavy blistering of the hands and feet, but as I told my doctor today “They both burn. I can show you, but you have to look closely at my hands to see the tiny blister.” The part that kills me, which I see you suffered as well, are the blisters to the face that “peels, bleeds, scabs and repeats every couple of hours.” I feel like crying, thats how bad I feel right now.

  9. Emma

    I’m not sure what’s going on, but this definitely helped. It started on Saturday, I had a terrible fever and sore throat. Sunday and Monday were safe thing. Monday & Tuesday I noticed my hands and feet were hurting like blisters. My feet feel like I’m constantly walking on glass. It was only today (Wednesday) that I noticed a few red bumps showing up on my hands… hope this clears up soon. Ugh. I feel like a walking disease 🙁

  10. Kelly

    Came back from Mexico on Monday May 14th, our 2.5 yr old son had what we thought was sand flea bites on elbows, inside elbows and under knees. Went to walk in and doctor Just said he had reaction to something and prescribed cream. Daughter 5 months old has baby eczema and we thought she had an outbreak on her hands, but then it spread to arms and legs, she was her cheerful self if not a bit more fussy. Come Saturday May 19th I have a fever, I am more tired than normal, and a sore throat! Saturday night my fever ended and I found the first blister on my finger. Chalked it up to stress from the kids skin. Cut to today ,May 21st, I finally figured it out. I have blisters on my hand and a sore sore throat. What a useless walk in doctor, perhaps had we known we could have been more careful so my baby didn’t get it, I feel so bad. It hurts to hold/do anything!

    1. Post

      I’m told most babies contract the virus before they are two which is why it is so uncommon for adults to get it (like chicken pox). You’re not a bad mom, you’re just normal!

    1. Post
  11. Vanessa

    OMG. My temperature was hitting 40 and would not reduce. I ended up in A&E as the paramedics (yes I was that bad). The said I had an unidentifiable virus. The following day HFMD showed its ugly head. So its NOT mild no matter what some sites say.

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