Can you Catch Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Disease Twice?

My fourteen-month-old son recently had hand-foot-and-mouth virus. Is this something he can catch again, or will he be immune from future recurrences? It’s nice to have a place to ask non-urgent questions about the little ones, and as I know you — you have seen my son in the office — I trust your answers and advice.
Nancy Stone – Post-Doctoral Fellow – Stanford Medical School – Palo Alto, California

Image of boy holding his feet. Can you catch Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Syndrome twice?

Dr. Greene’s Answer:

The incredible human body is equipped with an immune system that staggers the imagination. In ages past, explorers charted thrilling new lands. Today, one of the most exciting frontiers of discovery is the wondrous, intricate, complex immune system silently protecting us day and night.

Two types of defense against viruses predominate in the bloodstream: humoral immunity and cellular immunity. The humoral (or one might say ‘liquid’) immune system attacks viruses when they are loose in the body, either in the bloodstream or in bodily secretions. The cellular immune system attempts to destroy viruses once they have taken up residence inside the body’s cells.

The humoral response consists of antibodies made to specific viruses. These antibodies remain present in the circulation and secretions, hopefully eliminating the virus and protecting against future infections. The more water soluble a particular virus is, the more effective the humoral response. A good example of this is the poliovirus. Polio vaccines (and other vaccines) work precisely because they so effectively stimulate specific antibody formation. When a person is re-exposed to polio, the virus is destroyed by antibodies before infection sets in.

The cellular response consists of certain white blood cells, such as cytotoxic lymphocytes or natural killer cells, which attack and destroy our own cells that have been invaded and altered by viruses. Some viruses, such as herpes, are ‘sneaky’ enough to hide in our cells without changing the way they look to the cellular immune system. These viruses can remain dormant within cells for years, only to re-emerge periodically when our humoral defenses are weak and allow the viruses to get loose in the circulation once again.

Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Syndrome is a Distinct Viral Illness

It produces blisters in the mouth in 90% of infected children and a characteristic rash primarily on the hands, feet, or buttocks in 64% of these children. Most children are cranky, with a sore throat, decreased appetite, and/or fever. The illness typically clears within a week.

Hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome was first reported in 1956, in Australia. As far as we know, it never occurred before that time. For the next 7 years it was reported, only occasionally, in pockets dotting the globe. By 1963, however, it became a common feature of childhood worldwide.

Several Different Viruses Can Cause Hand-Foot-and-Mouth Syndrome

Hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome is caused by several different viruses, including coxsackieviruses A5, A9, A10, A16, B1, B3, enterovirus 71, foot-and-mouth disease virus, and herpes simplex. The vast majority of cases, however, are caused by coxsackievirus A16.

A child with a healthy immune system will form antibodies to whichever virus caused the infection. If your son is re-exposed to the same virus, he will probably not be re-infected. He is still susceptible, in varying degrees, to the other viruses. Since 1963, most children have had one case of hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome, caused by coxsackievirus A16.

There is one other snag. While most children clear their bodies of the virus within one week, coxsackievirus A16 occasionally succeeds in hiding inside children’s own cells, like herpes. By eluding the cellular immune system, coxsackievirus A16 can cause chronic or recurring skin lesions. Healthy humoral immunity is able to keep these recurrences from being as severe as the initial episode.

Will your son catch hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome again? Probably not, but there are no guarantees. Who knows? In the next century, enterovirus 71 might become the major cause of hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome. Even so, the human immune system has a remarkable history of adapting to the ever-changing microscopic world around us.

Dr. Alan Greene

Dr. Greene is the founder of DrGreene.com (cited by the AMA as “the pioneer physician Web site”), a practicing pediatrician, father of four, & author of Raising Baby Green & Feeding Baby Green. He appears frequently in the media including such venues as the The New York Times, the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, & the Dr. Oz Show.

  1. Holly Weig

    In the summer of 2009 I went to an urgent care with extremely swollen lips and pain in my mouth. I had had a cold sore on my lip, something I’ve periodically gotten my whole life. This time, both lips were huge, fighting each other for space, and my mouth was full of canker sores, appearing almost overnight. The doctor diagnosed me as having a coxsackievirus, or HFMD. I had some small red dots on my hands that were tiny blisters, indicative of the virus. She sent me home with some numbing mouthwash and told me it would pass, which is did, in about 10 days time.

    I continued to have cold sores, but nothing like the HFMD breakout. I typically get them in conjunction with my menstrual cycle, or after spending too much time in the sun. My mother and brother have also suffered with them, and I was given a prescription for Valtrex to take at the first sign of the ‘tingle’. I feel as though that worked occasionally in my early twenties, but I have had several prescriptions since, and I do not recall it having ever prevented an outbreak. I have also tried acyclovir, zovirax, and Abreva for these outbreaks.

    In June of 2012 I had another full-blown outbreak of HFMD symptoms. At this time, I decided not to see a doctor, knowing that they would tell me it was a virus, it would have to pass. I did some research and found that it’s uncommon for people to have this twice, but I have had some unusual health issues in the past, so I assumed this was just my luck. The next breakout was in September 2013, followed by May 2014, August 2014, April 2016, and now, November 2016. Those were the full-blown breakouts, though I have had several “mini” episodes in between. Those would include a cold sore, maybe a canker sore or two, or sometimes just a few blisters on my fingers, that would open up, leaving big holes that scarred, though sometimes I would lose an entire fingertip worth of skin.

    In August of 2014 I went to urgent care again, with blisters on my hands, a couple of cold sores, and several mouth ulcers. I had the oral lesions swabbed, but the doctors at urgent care said that the blisters on my fingers did not have enough fluid in them to be cultured. The lesions came back as HSV 1. Since I was on the Oregon Health Plan at the time, I was referred to a dermatologist at St. Charles. She told me that in order to test the blisters, I would need to have a big chunk of skin cut out of my finger, which I was willing to do, but she asked that I call the next time I have a new fluid-filled blister, and that they would prioritize getting me in to have it removed. When I called, I was told the doctor was out of the office, and even though I expressed the urgency to have it done now, when the blister was fresh, they simply told me they would take a message and that no one there could help me. I never received a call back.

    I have taken notes on these outbreaks over the years, and noticed a few patterns, particularly in the last several rounds. I typically get a cold sore that doesn’t want to heal. After about two weeks, when it should be long gone, I typically enter my menstrual cycle, which will trigger the mouth ulcers, then the hand blisters, sometimes on my feet, arms and legs, then the sores inside or around my nostril(s). Sometimes my eyes will feel scratchy, as though there are blisters inside my eyelids. My lips will swell, and sometimes they will have no skin on them at all, meanwhile my gums are receding, and the ulcers are growing. This is usually accompanied with several days of flu-like symptoms, and extreme fatigue and depression. It is difficult to speak, and nearly impossible to eat for many days. This usually lasts anywhere from 15-20 days from beginning symptoms to final stages of healing, not including the original cold sore that seems to have triggered the entire process. The longest duration for this process has been about five weeks.

    I have attempted many holistic approaches to tackle this, knowing it is a virus, and having no luck with medications such as Valtrex, I’ve felt as though there has been no other option. Listed below are the remedies, supplements, topicals, etc. that I’ve tried as prevention or treatment, in combination, and individually. I have had no clear indication that any of these methods have provided me much more than temporary relief from the pain.

    Ice (topically)
    Alcohol (topically)
    Hydrogen Peroxide (topically)
    Saltwater + Baking Soda rinse
    Lysine (in pill form daily for many years, topcially during outbreak)
    DMSO (topically)
    Cell Food (topically + internally)
    Oregano Oil (topically + internally)
    Lemon Balm (topically + internally)
    Colloidal Silver (topically + internally)
    Echinacea
    Goldenseal
    Elderberry
    Zinc
    Vitamin B complex
    Vitamin C
    Vitamin D
    Vitamin E
    Calcium
    Magnesium
    Selenium
    Cat’s Claw
    Astragalus
    Olive Leaf
    Turmeric
    Thuja Occidentalis
    Garlic
    Ginger

    To be clear, I am a healthy, happy 32-year-old female. I quit smoking eight months ago, though I smoked rolled cigarettes for many years before that. I rarely drink alcohol, I would estimate 4-6 drinks per month. I am an occasional medical marijuana user. I eat primarily vegetarian, I limit my gluten, dairy and sugar intake. I do not get plenty of exercise, and my job can be very high-stress. I am however, a fairly grounded person with a positive outlook on life.

    The thing I fear the most is that this illness could strike at any moment, and that fear prevents me from traveling freely, or planning too far ahead. It causes too much undue anxiety. I am looking for someone that is knowledgeable on viruses, or has any insight whatsoever into what this could be, or why I am continually affected by it. I am willing to try anything at this point.

    Best,

    Holly

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    • Christina

      When I suspected our three year old DS had contracted HFM, then confirmed by pedi I researched everything I could to help keep DS pain free and comfortable as possible. Some people used raw Shea butter to help with itchiness and blisters. We applied it to face, hands and feet as needed. Not one blister erupted. The fluid sac blisters deflated to original state. We were amazed! After some scouring I located raw Shea butter at our local Sally’s Beauty Supply store in the ethnic section. Best purchase I have ever made for the entire family!

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      • Christina,

        Thanks for the tip!

        If anyone tries this, please let us know how it works for you.

        Best, @MsGreene
        Note: I answer a lot of questions on DrGreene.com, I am the co-founder of DrGreene.com, Dr. Greene’s business partner and wife, but I am not Dr. Greene, nor am I a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.

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    • Belinda

      Nuts give me cold sores three days later. It took me fourty years and a granddaughter with food intolerances to realise, because of the three day gap. It is not an allergy. It’s an intolerance. Something about nuts causes stress in my body. I can fight it with lysine tablets (1000 mg) if I eat nuts without realising it. Since realising about five years ago, I’ve had them just a few times instead of back to back cold sores. Apparently it is something to do with the amino acid arginine, also in chocolate but I can eat chocolate as long as I don’t go over board. For me it is all nuts even pine nuts. But I’m ok with seeds: sunflower, pumpkin etc.
      well worth a try. Good luck

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    • bevanmiddlebrook@hotmail.com

      Same here Holly.
      I have had repeat attacks of HFMD. I’m a 41 year old otherwise healthy male.
      I’m having my 4th attack right now and my first was in April this year. My trigger cold sore (10days old) on my top lip is almost healed but my bottom lip is now swollen and I have the small, painful, red blisters on my toes, hands and gums. No fun brushing my teeth right now, I’m sure you can relate. Last time I had the sores in my nostrils also. My first attack was the worst. I get the ‘scratchy’ eyes and have conjunctivitis type gunk in my eyes when I wake from sleeping while suffering the early stages of the attack. I to have suffered from cold sores since my teenage years. Unfortunately I don’t have the answer to how to stop this. I really hope it’s not just something I’ll have to get used to like my cold sore outbreaks. Anyway, just so you know your not the only one..
      Bevan

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  2. Upset grandmother

    My grandson was diagnosed today with HFMD again. This is the fourth or fifth time that he has received this diagnosis, and I am completely frustrated. He is two. How can a child contract this so many times?! What can be done to ensure this stops?

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    • Dear Upset,

      That is so hard for you all.

      As Dr. Greene says, “Hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome is caused by several different viruses, including coxsackieviruses A5, A9, A10, A16, B1, B3, enterovirus 71, foot-and-mouth disease virus, and herpes simplex. The vast majority of cases, however, are caused by coxsackievirus A16.”

      Typically children become immune to the virus causing their HFMD, but if they are exposed to one of the other viruses that can cause HFMD, they can get it again. Thankfully, there is a limited number of viruses, so eventually, he will be immune to them all.

      Best,
      @MsGreene

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  3. Diana

    My son had it when he was 15 months old with pretty intense symptoms. There is a small outbreak in his daycare and he got it again, a lot milder now, he is 33 months old. He has had sore for 3 days now and they are drying up. How much longer is he contagious for?

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  4. Anjela

    My daughter is on her 5th day of hfmd but she only has blisters inside her mouth. Her fevers gone. I can’t see blisters, she’s eating better but she still just wants to lay around and sleep on and off. Would you say she’s still contagious? Also if the sores are only in her mouth then would it only be contagious by drinking and eating after her?

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  5. Dacie

    I work at a daycare. Hand, foot, and mouth has been going around for the last week. And over the weekend I had no symptoms and when I got to work today I noticed a few tiny blisters on my hands. There’s none in my mouth on my feet. Am I just paranoid? The blisters and rash on my hands kind of hurt and itch. But since I havent been around my boyfriend at all today and since they just appeared could he still contract the virus? None of the blisters have popped I don’t think.

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    • Dacie,

      Daycares are great places to pick up any number of things … so are doctor’s offices. In both cases, once you are exposed, you bring it home to your family.

      Dr. Greene has written another article on HFM that answers your question specifically. Here it is — > How Long is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Contagious?

      I hope that’s helpful.

      Best,
      @MsGreene

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  6. Geraldine martinez

    My little one just had the Coxsackie 2 weeks ago. Sadly, I took her to my mom for a little bit and my little brother got it. Can my daughter be re-infected if they were together playing when he was still sick?

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    • Geraldine,

      As Dr. Greene says, “Hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome is caused by several different viruses, including coxsackieviruses A5, A9, A10, A16, B1, B3, enterovirus 71, foot-and-mouth disease virus, and herpes simplex. The vast majority of cases, however, are caused by coxsackievirus A16. A child with a healthy immune system will form antibodies to whichever virus caused the infection.”

      That means, if your daughter is re-exposed to the same virus, she will probably not be re-infected. Sadly, she is still susceptible, in varying degrees, to the other viruses.

      Bottom line: Her chances of being infected again are low, but possible.

      Best,
      @MsGreene

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  7. Andrew

    My two year old son has hand foot and mouth disease. I hugged him to comfort him. Is it possible he could pass it along to me? I am 24 years old. Not sure if my age matters. I just want to know because I work with food and I don’t want to pass it to anyone

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    • Andrew,

      It’s very natural to want to comfort your son, especially when he’s sick. Hugs are great, but as you point out, contact can lead to spread of disease.

      In most cases, adults have been exposed to the viruses that cause hand, foot, and mouth disease. If so, they are likely immune and will not get it from their children. In some cases, adults missed a childhood exposure to the specific virus their child has and will be susceptible.

      Bottom line: Maybe, but unlikely.

      Sorry I can’t be more definitive.

      Best,
      @MsGreene
      Co-founder & Executive Producer DrGreene.com, Mom

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      • Katie

        Hand foot and mouth went around my children’s school last winter and at least a dozen of us adults got it, bad! we are all over 30.

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        • Katie,

          I’m so sorry. It’s especially hard on adults when they do get it.

          @MsGreene

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    • crystak

      yes you can get it. I got it from my son the first time he got it.

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    • Eunice

      Hi, you can totally get it as an adult. I did and I had fever and chills for 1 morning and was lethargic all day. Next few days felt perfectly fine but the blisters hurt!!! If they are on the feet, it hurts to walk! I also got them on my face and they felt like painful pimples, they were filled with a tiny amount of fluid. Not a fun disease. Our poor babies. : * (

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  8. Alexandra

    My son (16 months old) was diagnosed with hand foot and mouth about 5-6 weeks ago and developed the characteristic bumps on his hand and feet and some on his buttocks. The doctor didn’t see any bumps in his mouth at the time of the exam, and my son didn’t have a fever. About 2 weeks later, he developed a fever of 102 and then little blisters on his tongue. I didn’t see any swollen gums or blisters on his cheeks or mouth. The urgent care doc said he had spots in his throat that looked like hand foot and mouth or strep, but strep was negative. His pediatrician said he had an infection caused by hsv. I found out today that hand foot and mouth is rampant still at his school. Could his second infection have been caused by hand foot and mouth?

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    • Hi Alexandra,

      How tough on you both!

      As Dr. Greene says above, “Hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome is caused by several different viruses, including coxsackieviruses A5, A9, A10, A16, B1, B3, enterovirus 71, foot-and-mouth disease virus, and herpes simplex. The vast majority of cases, however, are caused by coxsackievirus A16.

      A child with a healthy immune system will form antibodies to whichever virus caused the infection. If your son is re-exposed to the same virus, he will probably not be re-infected. He is still susceptible, in varying degrees, to the other viruses.”

      So sorry!

      @MsGreene
      Co-founder & Executive Producer DrGreene.com, Mom

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  9. pam

    Can a child catch foot mouth disease if they are around a child that has it ?

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    • Pam,

      That’s a pretty broad question. In general the answer is yes, but in specific the answer is it depends on whether the child without HFM has already had the strain of the virus that the child with HFM has.

      In practice, it’s not ideal for kids with HFM to be in close contact with other children.

      Hope that helps,
      @MsGreene

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  10. Katelynn

    Can my child get re infected with HFMD while he is still sick with it if he was exposed to another child having it.

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  11. Melody

    My 16 month old son contracted HFMD almost 3 weeks ago! He had one of the worst cases his pediatrician had seen in years! He finally was recovering well and his blisters were all going away and healing as of last Monday! Sadly he came home from daycare this past Friday broke out in another rash and by Yesterday he had full blow HFMD AGAIN! Can some plz help me understand this beings you aren’t supposed to be re infected by it! His fever is back to 102 and his blisters are back! He isn’t eating because his mouth is sore! I’ve taken 2 weeks of work off with no pay and now this will make 4 weeks! I’m 100% positive this came from his daycare! Anyone else have an advice or support!?

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    • Oh, Melody. How hard!

      Here’s what Dr. Greene says, “Hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome is caused by several different viruses, including coxsackieviruses A5, A9, A10, A16, B1, B3, enterovirus 71, foot-and-mouth disease virus, and herpes simplex. The vast majority of cases, however, are caused by coxsackievirus A16.

      A child with a healthy immune system will form antibodies to whichever virus caused the infection. If your son is re-exposed to the same virus, he will probably not be re-infected. He is still susceptible, in varying degrees, to the other viruses.”

      In other words, it’s likely a different strain. But the good news is, he may not get as sick this time. Fingers crossed on that one!

      Best,
      @MsGreene

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    • Molly

      Melody, that is the exact same thing that happened with my 18 month old. It was as if I wrote it. 102 fever, he had to stay home from daycare for 7 days. He was finally cleared up and feeling better so I sent him back on a Monday. By Tuesday at Noon I got a call that he had another 102 fever and I had to pick him up and keep him home again for another week. And this time it was way worse. He started back at daycare again today but I’m deathly afraid and anxious that he will get it again. I don’t know what to do. I can’t afford to keep him home but also can’t afford to have him get it again. This sucks!!!

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      • Marie

        Hi Molly and Melody, the same thing happened with my daughter only, she is 2 years old and she does not go to daycare. She stays home with my mother so I don’t know how she is contracting it. I do have 2 other children ages 6 & 14 but she had the virus about 3 months ago. Her doctor said it was one of the worse cases, she could not even walk from the blisters on her feet. It took her a month to recover and now she has it again. I do not understand and even these explanations on this webpage are vague and unclear. The doctor at urgent care assumed she was contracting it from other kids at daycare until I told him she does not go to daycare, then he became a fast talker and just hurried us out with meds. I keep my house very clean and she is constantly washing her hands (she thinks it’s fun). I wish someone would give us better answers so we can do something to make sure they don’t get it again. I know we all hate when our kids are sick.

        Best wishes,
        Marie

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        • Kayla

          She could be getting it because her immune system isn’t that strong. As clean as you are saying that she had surrounding her and the fact that she doesn’t go to daycare, sometimes it’s good to expose your children to some “germs” so their bodies can work up the antibodies to fight it.

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  12. Patty

    I am a grandmother of 11 and was with 2 of my grandchildren for several days while they had it. How long should I stay away from the others as to not possibly pass it on?

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    • Patty,

      Dr. Greene says: “The viruses that cause hand-foot-mouth disease are present both in the stool and in the respiratory secretions. It can spread by fecal–oral transmission, droplet transmission, contact transmission, and by means of fomites. Hand cleansing—especially after diapering/toileting and before eating—can help reduce its spread. Children are often kept out of school or daycare for the first several days of the illness, but it is not clear this prevents others from becoming infected. ” As an adult, who is vigilant about not sharing food and drink and washing your hands after using the bathroom, you are likely safe to be around others.

      Hope that helps,
      @MsGreene

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  13. Kristy

    Hi my sin has just had hfmd on 19th august he woke up looked really unwell we thought he had caught our cold that hubby and i had . Monday morning he had high temp and spots in mouth took him to gp and was confirmed hfmd . We had bad blistering in mouth but only a few on the hand and feet. My son is 5 and at school i had him home for 10 days until dr gave all clear for him to go back to school on 29th august . He wasnt eating or drinking much and wasnt going to toilet often but he has been back to school now 2 days then i hear other children are coming out with a bit worried that he may end up getting it again as he has a weak immune system . I have had mild symptoms to a couple of blisters on hands and a sore mouth for nearly a week so i got it mild but im really hopping he doesnt get again as it is sad watching them in so much pain i gave him lots of icypoles and pandol and nurefon and bonjela for pain it does help a little but its doesnt work 100% . I have no idea how he got it but yes very contagious.

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  14. Judie Ferrebee

    Hello Dr Greene,
    My grandson developed a rash on his foot that initially looked to Be a spider bite. He also developed Small red bumps Which looked blister like On the top And sides Of his feet Which he also had Red pimple like bump That went away off his face. Then He got More of these bumps One at a time On his arm his legs his finger His back. The doctor gave us a diagnosis Of Coxsackie. He was first diagnosed with a spider bite And I rash And given an antibiotic Then upon bringing him back The other doctor diagnose him with Coxsackie. He said it should clear up in 7 to 10 days. Just as we thought he didn’t have this anymore He started breaking out in these little bumps again His face his buttocks His hand On the top of his fingers. He just recently Had a bout of a fever And sore throat Which I thought was strep, From which we thought he got it from his sister what who was diagnosedWith strep. After the bump start showing up And he had this sore throat and fever, His armpit was hurting him And I felt the Gland To be Stiff and swollen. I know he’s going to go back to the doctor But I want a more specific Diagnosis of what is going on This is only been happening for the last few weeks And his mother just had a new baby And I’m concerned about him being around the baby Was something that might be contagious.
    Please respond back ASAP
    Judie ferrebee

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  15. Jason

    Hi There

    My little one, now 5 has had re-ocurrences of HFM since a wee one. All quite mild with minor blistering of the tongue and outer lips around the mouth. His latest bout was accompanied by a mild rise in temperature and tonsillitis.

    He recovers well with a little TLC and pain relief for the sore throat.

    Great resource.

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    • Jay

      Hi Jason. My son has gotten it again for the second time in 4 months. No fever this time. Did you have your little one in day care? And do you think the hygiene at the daycare could have been the issue?

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    • Em

      This is what has happened to my kids also. Mostly just bad sores in the mouth with little red dots around the mouth and on the hand and feet for a day. They have had this happened 3-4 times now and they always get it about the same. Last time there was no fever noticed. This time a fever with minor sores in the mouth. I am sad that this keeps happening to them since the mouth sores are so painful.

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  16. Charlotte Ford

    My 17month old daughter has now got hand foot and mouth for 3rd time in 9 months. It’s horrendous it’s getting worse everytime she gets it

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    • Liz

      My daughter is 13 months and this is also her third time getting it. We are now pretty sure of the source and it was this one kid that came visiting us.

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  17. Lauren

    I have had canker sores since I was 5. Its not herpes, its something else, and now, Im wondering if THIS is whats causeing my outbreaks. I have outbreaks around my period and I think this is why I’m triggered. Seriously, doctors need to look into this. I have a two year old son and I remember there was an outbreak of HFM in his class last year. Shortly after that, I got the WORST outbreak of cankersores in my throat I’ve ever had in my life. They were all over my mouth- throat, along my gums, doctors didnt have a clue. I went to the ER even – it was so painful. It was like I was having cankersores upon cankersores- caused two versions of the same virus, I think. Regardless, hands down THE worst pain I have ever experienced. I couldnt eat for 2 weeks. I went to an ENT doctor and he gave me some topical anesthetic spray that burns so bad but works. Ibuprofen and oralgel didnt do jack.
    Im susceptible to illness; Im type 1 diabetic and being a mom, I get little sleep.
    2 weeks ago, my son contracted the illness again. The cankersores from this are like the ones I usually get but far far far more painful. This time I got one HUGE fat
    cankersore on my upperlip and one on my tongue- the former starting to leave a nasty scar and the one on my tongue is small but is kicking my butt. The sores grew aggressively and are lasting longer than standard sores I usually get. I even got a small sore on my hand and is painful. If this shit is dormant in me from now on, I think I’d rather die. I would much rather have natural birth- at least there is end in sight in 40 hours or less. This… 2 weeks.
    This is the best answer to my problems I’ve seen.
    Doctors, look into this. Cankersores are awful and need to be stopped.

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    • Samantha

      You should try gargling with Apple Cider Vinegar at least 3 times a day when you feel an outbreak coming on or when you’re stressed (maybe even daily doses would be good for you- Make sure to get raw organic Vinegar I like the brand Braggs). I recently got HFM while traveling and was able to beat it by some simple homeopathic remedies. On Saturday I had one cankersore and felt another -I gargled with apple cider vinegar every couple hours and drank 1/2 a shot of it after every meal. I also made a clove and baking soda toothpaste that I gargled and rubbed on the sore. By Tuesday my mouth was good as new- I still have a couple blisters on my hands but they are healing. I’m not sure how to treat those so I’m just leaving them along and keeping up on the oral hygiene. You should also look into the healing properties of garlic, coconut oil and turmeric.

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    • Em

      I also have gotten canker sores throughout life and have always thought they could be related to stress and possible autoimmune issues from what I have read. I have had a doctor tell me they are a sign of a Vitamin C deficiency and a dentist said they have found that toothpastes with sodium laural sulfate can cause them. I have gotten a lot less sores since switching to toothpaste without it. My kids (especially my son) get the sores pretty bad in their mouths when they get HFM multiple times now.

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  18. Livi

    Sadly I have had it two times and I am an adult… The second time for me was so so severe. I had a 104 fever and then for 10 days had the worst blisters of my life. I couldn’t barely walk. I hate this virus with a passion!

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    • Cassandra

      Is there a certain type of doctors that specializes in this foot and mouth

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      • Pediatricians treat hand-foot-and-mouth disease.

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  19. sherlin

    If some one have Erpes 1 and 2 can easily get infected whit this dessis?

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  20. Amirah

    Hi Doc. I caught HFMD when I was a child and I got it again in my late teens. I thought I wouldn’t get it twice

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  21. Teresa

    My grandson has hand foot and mouth disease. Symptoms started with low grade nighttime fever x 2 days. Then, the evening before the last fever, he returned home from daycare with a rash on his face around his mouth. On further inspection, my daughter noted lesions in his mouth, on his tongue, blisters on palms of his hands, lesions on his buttock; all typical of HFMD. Furthermore, what is atypical from what I have read in multiple articles, his rash did not appear on the feet, but is on and around his knees, in umbilical button, on lower abdomen, on thighs, on elbows, middle inner aspects of arms, and perineal area. Lesions were so diffusely scattered that I first thought it may be mild cause if Chickenpox, even though he has had one dose of Chickenpox vaccine. I am posting this comment just as a FYI for those who may have an atypical child with HFMD.

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  22. Jane

    I had Hfmd in August of 2014. Every few months since I get outbreaks of blisters on my hands and mouth. It doesn’t seem to be contagious anymore but will the blistering ever go away?

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    • Livi

      It’s probably laying dormant in your system. Sadly it’s the same for me as well… Pops up every few months.

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      • Debbie

        This worries me as my 25 year old daughter just got over a terrible 2 week bout with hfm she contracted from her 18 month old …. 4 days ago she got extremely tired and 2 days ago had large lesions in her throat and mouth…today full blown hfm AGAIN. …
        Her first round was so serious she has scars on her hands and feet. I am very worried about her and will be picking up my granddaughter.to keep her hoping she has not been exposed again.
        Doctors told her it was rare to have such a serious case and the good news was that she should never get it again…
        The baby also had a very serious case….so much pain with no relief. I kept her for 7 days so that they could each heal up….now it looks like round two 6 weeks later….

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  23. Anne S

    I am 20 and have just caught it for the second time and it’s worse than last year. It’s been 10 months since the first one and that time the blisters/lesions had stayed confined to my hand and feet and I had multiple painful ulcers in my mouth making me unable to speak/eat. Since then I had recurrent lesions a few times on my hands but they were faint and I didn’t give it much thought. This time it came back full force and i also got painful blisters on my knees, elbow and anus as well as the usual ulcers in mouth and blisters on hand/feet. I really hope it’s the last time- I have never experienced so much pain in my mouth and I’ve lost a lot of weight in one week of barely eating.

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    • daniel

      I’ve had all the same symptoms you explained. Here and the doctors won’t do anything for me except say yes you have hfmd. Go home and sleep it off.
      It’s really scary that I get it so many times. When all the research says 2 times is rare

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  24. Gregg

    Dr. Greene,

    I see by the numerous comments here that many individuals have been affected by the coxsackie virus a number of times. Most research points to once you have the virus you build an immunity to it. Can you provide some insight as to why the coxsackie virus re-occurs in some individuals.

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    • Greg —

      As Dr. Greene points out, “Hand-foot-and-mouth syndrome is caused by several different viruses, including coxsackieviruses A5, A9, A10, A16, B1, B3, enterovirus 71, foot-and-mouth disease virus, and herpes simplex. The vast majority of cases, however, are caused by coxsackievirus A16.

      A child with a healthy immune system will form antibodies to whichever virus caused the infection. If your son is re-exposed to the same virus, he will probably not be re-infected. He is still susceptible, in varying degrees, to the other viruses.”

      Bottom line, if your child has HFM Disease more than once, it’s likely a different strain than the first time around.

      Best,
      @MsGreene

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      • Georgina

        My boy 7 has post viral infection due to hfmv wether it is or not I’m worried’ on the 8 day as blisters went he had no blisters on feet ‘ but severe sudden pain on he ankle it disappeared over night when he fell asleep ‘ 3days later same again severe pain on both feet not able to walk ‘ sent him in A&E bloods ok white cells a little high ‘ next day no pain a little swollen ‘ I’m still baffled and afraid !!!

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  25. Dr.pradeep

    My 15 months old son got infected by hfmd twice within a span of 45 days. Please share your opinion.

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    • Gregg

      I am 47 years old and got infected with the coxsackie virus. The mouth sores were terrible and lasted 9-10 days. I continued to have periodic night sweats and three weeks later I came down with a bad chest cold and the coxsackie virus came back. The mouth sores were not as bad the second time around but still very uncomfortable. Doctor ran blood and urine tests and everything was ok. I still have the remnants of the chest cold. It’s been a rough 5 weeks. If it comes back again I will be sent to an infectious disease doctor.

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    • Y

      The same thing happened to my son! He had it really bad and today I saw a rash on his leg… same place he had it before. it has been about 30 days since he had it last.

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  26. Nicholas Nii

    I’ve had HFMD ever since Thanksgiving, and it’s been gone now. However, I have a Dog at home. Since I had it I had been feeding him. I basically touched his food with the part that was diseased, then he eats his food. I understand that this virus is only transmitted by humans. However what would this virus actually do to dogs?

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    • Sarah

      It wouldn’t do anything AT ALL. It can NOT be transmitted to him in anyway which also means you couldn’t somehow “catch” it from your pup.

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  27. Madi C.

    Hello, If my boyfriend infected me with HFMD, can i re-infect him?

    Thanks!

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  28. donna hughes

    Hi, My son is 5. He has hfmd. What creams are best to use and how long should he be off school?

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  29. Craig cambridge

    I have had hand foot and mouth desease 6 times in the last 2 years. It makes me very ill along with the blisters on the mouth, hands,feet and anus. Could you please tell me why it keeps reaccuring. Thanks

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  30. Amanda

    Our five year old has HFMD severally twice, and mildly another time. He presented and was diagnosed with strep last week, second time in a month. However, when I looked at his throat, I had a hunch it was HFMD. The striations in the throat have two different patterns from strep and HFMD. So I was surprised and happy with the strep diagnoses. After he was released for activity, he played soccer in the sun. After an hour, he walked off the field with HFMD blisters infecting mouth, face, hands, buts, knees (normal for him), and feet. I am positive the antibiotics he is taking breaks his body down and pushes what is dormant in his body up. I am also positive most doctors are have limited education and will not expand their mind. I would like to take him to an intelligent doctor to be evaluated. Who do I take him to? Why can’t doctors understand the body mutates and does not follow this checked off exact list.
    I would like to understand why he keeps getting this and it is obvious it is not the normal version. He continuously looses nails, as well. There has to be some type of preventive technic, something to kill this virus. This exhausting, painful, and time consuming. I am also, this makes him more contagious for other herpes virus and other related diseases. Thank you!

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  31. Kristine

    Hello,

    My young daughters have both had HFMD….one of them twice. Since they’ve had it I get recurrent lesions on my hands and feet whenever I am run down or stressed out….probably about every 3 or 4 months. I have never had a full blown case of it myself…just the lesions on my hands and feet along with headaches and fatigue. Afterwards, my hands and feet peel. Also, I go to many children’s birthday parties where I find out after that children end up getting HFMD. I guess they get it from me when I don’t notice that I even have the lesions yet! I feel guilty that kids keep getting sick because of me. Do I need to see my doctor about this? I assume since it’s a virus that there’s nothing I can do.

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    • jessica V

      My daughter came home with HFMD from her half brother that is in preschool … she end up giving to her other brother and me . It has been over a week. Could my son get it right back after a week has past?

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  32. marelleann

    Hi. My daughter (6 yrs old) and my son (3 yrs old) are having hfmd. Their cousin is being infected too because they played. I just want to ask if my son and daughter will be able to catch it again?

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    • Lisa

      Now that it’s been so long, I’m curious to know did they get it again?

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  33. Rebecca

    I am a nanny and I am 29. I caught it from the kids two summers in a row now! I don’t have a very reliable immune system when it comes to throat related illnesses, but you can definitely catch it as an adult. It feels like strep with worse chills, sweats, body aches, and flu like symptoms including nausea and stomach issues. The hand blisters are faint and don’t really hurt. I suppose this strain is still in me somehow or I caught one of the other ones? The bright side is you are cured naturally within a week or just a few days!

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  34. Riley

    Hello! I am hoping someone can offer me some advice or opinions of developing HFM multiple times. My daughter has just started her 3rd round of HFM. She is just two. She is a healthy baby (with the exception of only having one kidney) and rarely gets ill. I am worried that her immune system may be compromised or something else may be going as to why she’s getting this virus. Has any other parent had their child catch HFM 3+ times? Thank you for any advice offered!!

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    • Deepak

      Yes my son caught it for thr third time in past 2 years. Although no fever on 2nd and 3rd time and it went away faster. I am clueless too about the recurrence.

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      • Roxana

        My daughter had it when she was 2 years old a very severe case, I thought she will never get it again but she just got it. This is her second time and she is 10. This time also was server easy the first one . I’am very surprised about her getting it again.

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    • Em

      Yes, my kids have gotten it multiple times now as toddlers and it almost always represents the same. I would say every 6 months or so. Has your daughter continued to get it since you posted this?

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  35. Bes

    Hello,

    I have a 15 month old with hf&md. He is the only baby at daycare. How did my son get it? I have older children at home but no one has been sick in the few weeks.

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  36. Jesse James

    Hi sir, I just had an outbreak of HFMD. I caught it from my boyfriend. What is the likelihood that he’ll catch it again once I wait about ten days? I have a rather strong immune system and would like to think I will get better soon. This is my first encounter with this disease. I am going to try and stay hydrated. Also, I have not yet broke out in a rash and it has been two days, what is the likelihood that I will?
    Thank you.

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  37. Rikki

    Hey!! My daughter had hand, foot and mouth at the end of 2013! She had it 7 times in 11 months!! First time she was in hospital her temp was 39 to 40 for 3 days!! How many times can you catch hand, foot n mouth??

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    • Jenny

      how old is your daughter? Did the doctor diagnose it seven times? My daughter gets these fever and mouth lesions very often too…

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  38. WorriedMama

    My daughter was just diagnosed with HFM or herpangina but I was also told it’s possible it could be HSV. No one in my family has HSV & she was not near any kids that have acted sick at all or have been known to have cold sores. So I know that some kids don’t end up showing s/s of having HFM or HSV but I am curious as to what you think my daughter has? She spiked a fever of 104, 24hrs later I noticed 2 blisters on her lips & then some inflammation to one area of her gums (probably a blister forming), & on her tongue as well. She continued to have a fever of 101-102 for another 24 hrs & also developed more blisters, this time outside of her lip line as well & several inside her mouth. We are on day 5 now & she has not gotten any rash to her body or extremities (which made the dr doubt a HFM dx). Her gums are also very red & inflamed & bleed if I try to brush them. Needless to say we are using Ibp/APAP & magic mouthwash but I want to know what this is. Especially now that you are saying that the HFM can cause recurrent lesions (that I would have assumed to be HSV if she got anything in the future). To be able to determine if the virus is coxsackievirus vs herpangina vs HSV would I need a blood test? And what do you think she is afflicted with?

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    • B janes

      My 17 month old got HFMD and only had blisters inside of his mouth. He then passed it onto his almost 5 month old brother who has blisters on the outside of his mouth, hands, feet, and traveling down his arms and legs. Each child is different I suppose.

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  39. Wendy

    my son aged 3 caught HFMD just this week for the third time since he was born. First time when he was 18 months, fever and bad mouth sores, no spots on hands/feet/buttocks. Second time when he was two years old, no fever but had painful mouth sores and a few spots on this feet and buttocks, no itch. Third time fever and mouth sores but not painful at all, so far still no spots on hands/feet/buttocks. He caught it this last time from his cousin who is two and she had fever and very painful mouth sores. Not sure if his sores were not painful this time as he has some kind of immunity or different viruses have different effects on different people.

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    • Hi Wendy,

      Different strains of viruses can indeed produce different symptoms in different kids. And there are a couple of different conditions that are closely related. When kids have mouth sores without spots on the hand/feet/buttocks it can still be HFMD – but it could also be herpangina. I hope this is the end of these infections for your 3-year-old. He’s certainly had his share!

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  40. Lelia

    My kids are ages 2 and 1, they go to daycare 3-5 days a week. They both have had hand, foot, and mouth multiple times now. It’s very frustrating with them always being sick with this virus. Is there something I’m doing wrong or is it just all the different viruses? Please help me understand what’s going on with my kids.

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  41. Meg

    Thanks for explaining the working of the immune system as it pertains to HFMD. Ever since i got it along with my son in 2011, I get very tiny blisters on my hands and feet when I get sick. For the longest time i thought they were warts but they always went away. Then i realized they felt exactly like the HFMD blisters and thought maybe I was crazy since i don’t know anyone else with long-term symptomology. Now i understand!

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  42. charmaine.rebello

    Sir, what are the best preventive measures for swine flu?

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  43. A.Ramesh

    My grand daughter, aged two and half years, is suffering with hand foot and mouth disease. Doctor has given oral aid drops ( 2 drops at time x 4 times ) and zoral cream and advised to apply on blisters if there is any itchy.
    Is there any other medicine for that disease? How can we improve her immune system as she is suffering with cold twice in a month?

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  44. Amber

    Hello, My 19 month old son had hand foot mouth disease about 4 months ago and he just got it again a week and half ago. He is now getting over it and it was going away. He had it very bad in his genital area and i did not understand that. Now i am experiencing the very sore blisters on my feet, legs, hands, and head, my son is also getting it again on his genital area. I am not sure what to do about it because we have been to 4 doctors and 2 hospitals. We have heard it is flea bites, HFMD, and even some say they dont know what it is. I just want to know whats going on with my son and why I am getting now also.

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  45. carlie

    Hello, my 18 month old son caught HFMD a month ago. We thought it had ran its course and was cleared up after a couple weeks. Now the blisters have returned on feet. Waking at night and very irritable. Not sure on fever because has been getting motrin for molars cutting through. My questions are; how can we find out what strand he has and is he contagious when the blisters reappear? Also both times has had a molar cutting, any correlation between the two?

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  46. Patricia Columbo

    My neighbor’s child has had HF&M 3 times within the past 4 1/2 months. He is 2 yrs old. It has been said the parents both have an STD called Herpes Simplex. He gets very high fevers & needs to be hospitalized when he gets these bouts. Am I correct in understanding what you’ve written – states HF&M can be caused by the Herpes Simplex virus? If so, what needs to be done where he can be free of this disease and not have anymore relapses.

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  47. John Annis

    My son had hand, foot and mouth syndrome in 1982 when he was less than a year old. He’s 33 now and apparently caught it again from his kids. It must be a different virus causing it, I guess. The blisters look the same, and are on his hands, feet and mouth just like they were 31 years ago.

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  48. Linda Wolski Gonzales

    My grandson has HFMD on the soles of his feet. Yesterday, I noticed about a dozen “pimple-like” blisters near my left elbow. I can’t wear long sleeves because it is too darn hot here, but if it is HFMD, I am terrified of getting it on my face because I would lose income as my work would require me to stay home.;

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    • Jjp

      I hope you stayed home if it was HFM regardless of it was on your face. People like you are the reason it’s spread in society because you dont stay home (or keep your kids home) & infect everyone else.

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      • Michigab

        And that’s why everyone should get paid sick leave and help paying for childcare and emergency childcare services.

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      • Lisa

        Exactly. This is the very exact reasoning on why all of these people, including myself are writing in scared to death about their children and selfs having HFM. Stay home and stop spreading these viruses to innocent children and people.

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  49. Kate

    I have the same question as Dari. I got HFMD from my 6-month old daughter nine months ago and every once in a while I get a lesion or two on my hands. I’m assuming that means that for me the virus has made it into my cells (you said it was like Herpes?!). Am I condemned to have this for the rest of my life now? Does this mean there’s something wrong with my immune system?

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  50. Saoirsephoto

    I’ve noticed from time to time spots and bumps on my toddler’s feet very similar (but not as bad) to when she had HFMD and occasionally on my hands as well (the entire family got it). Does this mean that the virus has embedded like herpes simplex does? Will it pop like this for the rest of her life and like with the herpes virus, is she contagious every time the spots reappear?

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  51. Dari

    Hi, I caught HFMD from my toddler back at the end of the summer. I had a mild case, red marks on the palms of my hands and some sores/blisters in the mouth. My daughter had it worse. Ever since this episode, anytime I have a cold or am not feeling well, I notice that I get a few on my hands and in my mouth again. Am I going to keep having outbreaks of this from now on whenever I catch a cold, etc.? Also, am I contagious when I have these recurrences? I’ve been teaching preschool for over 12 years so I think I have a pretty strong immune system. I’m all set with blisters in my mouth! Thanks for any feedback:-)

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  52. Melissa

    Hello, im 30 and have it for the second time. I had it when I was 22 the first time. My mom doesnt remember me having it when I was a child. Does this mean I have a weak immune system?? Or just a run of bad luck with this virus!? I work in health care and am wondering how long I should be off before going back. Thank-you, Melissa D

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  53. -AJ

    What about a teenager age 18 with a HFMD can he be caught again??

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  54. Rita Robelin Huron

    My granddaughter is 3 months old and she was diagnosed with HF&MD in early July. Well it is now August and she still has it or has got it again. She has lesions all over her hands which she puts in her mouth all the time. She has been to the doctors twice and they just say it will go away. She also has the blisters all over her body. I know it is rare to get it twice, should we take her to the doctors again and ask for blood work to see if there is anything else going on? Do these lesions hurt or itch? She is only 3 months old and can’t tell us how she feels. Please advise.

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    • Alan Greene

      Rita, when a rash isn’t getting better when expected, going back to re-evaluate is a great idea. Putting the hands in the mouth all the time might be a normal behavior at her age, might be a sign her gums feel strange with teething — or might because her hands itch or hurt.

      There are other things that could cause her symptoms as well, including scabies – which cause a rash that can be a great mimicker (http://www.drgreene.com/articles/scabies/)

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      • Rita Robelin Huron

        If it was scabies we would all have it since we hold her all the time and it is highly contagious. No one we know has HF&MD. Should we have blood work done? Could a low immune system prevent her from fighting off this disease? Please advise.

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        • Alan Greene

          Rita, when it’s not clear what’s going on, taking a baby back to the doctor to ask for a re-evaluation and whether blood work would be appropriate seems wise.

          Most people with the virus that causes HFM disease don’t have symptoms, so it’s impossible to know if she’s been exposed. And many people with scabies don’t react to them, and don’t get the itching or the rash – so comfortable family members don’t rule it out.

          A careful re-examination and perhaps blood work, depending on the findings, seems prudent. Blood work could also evaluate the immune system, though there are plenty of other possible reasons for the prolonged rash.

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        • Dr. Greene, my granddaughter(age 2 and a half years) has also has this virus at least 3-4 times in the past year alone. She nor her brother have been vaccinated(he’s 5 years old). Is it possible that their immune systems are compromised because of this?

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    • Heather White Parker

      Use baby wipes and wash them down with it pretty regular it will help make the rash go away my aunt told me this and it really works been using them on my 5 year old for two days and the rash is almost gone.

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      • Hi Heather and Rita,

        Not all wipes are created equal. Some have chemicals that may irritate. Three brands I like a lot are Episencial, Honest, and 7th Generation. All are very gentle.

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      • Jeff

        What brand of wipes worked?

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