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

Hand Foot and Mouth syndrome is caused by several different viruses, including coxsackieviruses A5, A9, A10, A16, B1, B3, enterovirus 7, herpes simplex...


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

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.

Last medical review on: October 29, 2014
About the Author
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Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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Recent Comments

I am a 74 year old male. I have experienced hand foot and mouth three times in the last four years. Your comments about the possibility of the virus being dormant and possible re-emerging was very interesting.
Each of my episodes were similar, Hands, feet and mouth and very uncomfortable.
Recent full blood count indicated possible CLL with elevated white blood cell count though low enough to not require treatment at this stage.
Now wondering if dormant H,F&M virus could be a factor.
Intend to discuss with hemotologist at next visit.
Thanks for your article, very difficult to get information as my docs to date have very little experience of this condition.
Fred Meaney. Ireland

This was a really wonderful post. Thank you for your provided information.

My daughter seems to keep catching HF&M over and over. She’s 15 now, and has had it in the past but just this year Summer 2018 to Spring 2019 she’s had it 6X’s. She is a healthy girl otherwise. What could be causing her to get this over and over?

I don’t believe it is different strains of the virus. There are numerous studies that point to coxsackievirus persistence in the body. My daughter had HFMD almost constantly for a year (I posted about it below) and while Acyclovir got rid of the rash on her hands and feet, her gastrointestinal distress, chest pain, and headaches are still constant. Doctors are not able to keep up with the changes in the virus.


Wow, that sounds painful.

Dr. Greene points out two important facts that answer your question:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Likely, your daughter is succumbing to different viruses that all product that same group of symptoms. Again, OUCH!

I hope that helps.
Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.

My 21 month old son has had hfm 4 times in 2 months. The pediatrician doesn’t think there’s anything to worry about because he is in daycare. Who would you go see if this continues to happen? Is there a specialist that would be more knowledgeable?

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for writing in. How difficult this must be.

If you are interested in seeing someone else about this, look for an Infectious Diseases specialist. You can typically find one by calling the nearest teaching (academic) hospital and asking who they recommend.

If your insurance company allows it, you can self refer. If not, you’ll need to get your pediatrician to refer you to the ID specialist or pay for the services out-of-pocket.

I hope that helps.
Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.

My daughter is ten and caught hand foot and mouth a year ago. It lasted three months. She then came down with again six months after the first bout. This time, her symptoms have been worse and have lasted over six months. She gets headaches, abdominal and chest pains and bouts of burning feet and hands with small blisters. This week she also hit two blisters on her face in addition to the other symptoms. Her infectious diseases specialist refuses to believe the two bouts of hfm are related and says her immune system has already got rid of the virus and the symptoms are due to something else. He says hfm cannot reside in the body or last this long. I am very frustrated at the lack of knowledge among the medical community and we are wondering how long she has to endure this virus.

Can children get hand mouth disease twice? Yes or no?

Hi Pam,

This is not a simple yes or no answer, but I believe this is the information you’re looking for (per Dr. Greene):

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.

I hope that helps.
Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.

I was told my daughter was most probably never getting hand foot and mouth disease ever again. Almost to the day one year later, surprise hand, foot and mouth disease again. I will admit the strands were totally different and the first was much uglier with horrible mouth sores so she couldn’t eat. But it was a pain, just tell people there are at least 6 different strands of this virus so it is very possible to get it again. You don’t go through life with getting one cold, they have different germs or whatever makes a virus. Tell parents the truth.

I am a 26 year old female and it’s been three years since my hand foot mouth episode. It was one of the worse cases my doctor has seen. I know it is harder on adults like chickenpox. But does anyone get unpainful blisters and peel skin on hands/fingers when you are stressed? Every time I am super stressed like the herpes virus I break out on my hands where all the blisters were.
My nephew gave it to me and now he has it again. Which confuses me how he got it again… now I am worried I will get it again and give it to my own child. Am I under category 71 or 16? I got confused with those two. Maybe he gave it to me the first time but his virus was different? Just trying to figure it out. Trying to stay away from it. That was a awful experience and I do not wish it on anyone.

Hi. I am 45 years old. I have had hand foot and mouth 3 times as an adult. Did anybody else ever have it multiple times? Never had hand foot and mouth as a child. When I was 26, I got it for the first time while working at a daycare. It was really bad. Blisters on feet and worse an extremely sore throat with many blisters. Didn’t have it again until a year ago. It was not as bad, but I now got it a third time. This time it is worse not as bad as the first time, but blisters on hands and feet and very sore throat. I am fairly healthy. Does anybody what it means if you get it multiple times.

I am a 70 year old male living in Ireland. In December 2015 I developed symptoms that seem very similar to those associated with HFM. When the rash (spots) spread to my legs and abdomen I visited to local A&E department. I was examined in an isolation room. No clear diagnosis was forthcoming photos were taken and I was sent home. As the symptoms developed and spread further I returned to A&E and was hospitalised in an isolation ward for about 3 days, given an IV drip that included antibiotics and also some vitamin supplements. I was then moved to a general ward for a further two days. It was suspected that I had had HFM but no clear diagnosis was ever made. The rash/spots took a further two to three weeks to fade.
During this time, apart from tenderness on the soles of my feet and palms of my hands, I did not suffer any other particularly uncomfortable symptoms.
Yesterday the tenderness on the soles of my feet and the palms of my hands has returned. I do not know if this will develop further. Slight sign of rash/spots on both. Also sore throat.
Wonder if this could be the start of relapse.
As doctors I encountered seemed unsure of what I had, is there anything I should ask them to do as I will visit them again shortly?

I keep getting HFM every year for the past three years. I am a 39 year old female, healthy. I don’t drink or smoke and workout and this disease is horrible. The first time I got it I could not speak and would wake up with a bloody pillow from all the ulcers on my lips and inside my mouth. The headaches and body pain were awful. I think what made it so bad the first time were some strong anibiotics this doctor gave me without proper diagnosis. I went to a different dr. who diagnosed me with HFM.
That was back in 2015 and it keeps coming back but not as severe. I still get ulcers on my lips and feel like somebody gave me a beating. The fevers are low grade compare to the first time. In any case I think it’s worst in adults and it’s hard to find info on adults on line.

Hello there I’m 29 and I’ve have it for 3 years too.
Always in summer in fact I have it now.
Do you know if it will ever go or will we have brake out every year.

Ok seriously, I was freaking out when I read Abilene’s story! I’m an39 mother of 2 and had HFM last june! Awful! I had tingling in my hands, feet and lips with tiny blisters that formed in the back of my throat! It hurt sooo bad and there is nothing you can do!
Forward to the present I have been totally anxiety ridden because last week I had a blood draw for regular physical and the next day I started with chills, upset stomach, nausea, now the same numbness and tingling in hands, feet, and mouth. I was up all night worrying about HIV and what if the phlebotomist purposely used a dirty needle! Omg! Then I remembered my horrible bout with HFM and this time it’s bringing back all the memories of all those same symptoms! I have it again in less than a year!! How does that happen! I thought it was a once and done kind of virus! And like you said no info on it for adults which makes you think you are crazy and have something else that’s makes you even more worried! Now I’m thinking should I get tested to confirm this is what’s happening! I have a dr appt tmw!

I am a 26 year old, for the most part I consider myself a healthy female.
In August of 2016 I had my first outbreak of HFM, It happened again in October and again right now.
I have done everything I can think of to prevent it and I am out of answers. Is this normal? What can I do?
In addition to HFM I have had several other medical concerns arise, not sure if the are linked to each other, but I figured I might as well divulge as much as possible to try and figure this out!!
I get cold sores, have had several cases of UTIs and BV and Currently have on Ovarian Cyst measuring 4.7cm
Any suggestions help! I have been trying all of the at home suggestions and just want to nip this in the butt as quickly as possible.
Thank you!

Cold sores, UTI’s, BV, & Ovarian Cyst… I have all that, too. AND recurring HFM. What is UP? Have you found anything out?


My son got hfm last summer. Since then he has had it over and over almost every other month. Each time is less in symptoms, although they still make him incredibly uncomfortable. The only remedy seems to be drugging him with Benedryl to sleep off the pain. I’ve tried every home remedy known to man. Nothing helps. This just has to burn its way out I guess. He just finished an outbreak. Only lasted 3 days thank God and he was able to sleep so things are definitely much better. His first outbreak he missed 3 weeks and was unable to sleep due to the pain and itching even with the Codine the doctor gave him. I hope things get better for you. Sorry I don’t have any better information.

hey I have the identical symptoms/issues…have you figured anything out?!

It appears that pediatricians are the only group of doctors who realize that coxsackievirus can become chronic. When I was 58, my immune system became very fragile due to a 6 month course of high dose prednisone, after which I contracted a case of whooping cough that was not properly diagnosed until much later than it should have been due to the fact that 7 years prior I’d been vaccinated against it–of course, whooping cough vaccines are known to “wear off” and I had a compromised immune system anyhow due to the prednisone treatment, which is why I contracted it. Then, about 4 months after contracting the whooping cough, when I was still recovering but coughing a significant amount, I was rushed to the emergency room with severe pain in my upper abdominal and intercostal muscles. The pain was so crippling that I couldn’t get up off the floor–it’s onset was incredibly sudden, and every time I moved or coughed, a new spasm of pain in those muscles would slice through me. I actually thought I’d broken a rib from coughing, as it was the only thing that made sense to me that could explain the severity of the pain. Well, after being rushed to the ER and following x-rays, it was clear nothing was broken. The ER doctors concluded following the x-ray that I had torn soft tissue muscle in the intercostal/upper abdominals from coughing. I was told unfortunately that the pain would take weeks to completely subside, as soft tissue injuries like that take a long time to heal. Fast forward three days later–and the pain had completely subsided. Gone. Poof. I knew right then this wasn’t a soft tissue injury, so I did a little research of my own, and after reading about the symptoms of Bornholm disease, realized it matched my symptoms exactly. I’d had a recurrence of mild cold symptoms just days before the attack that sent me to the ER, but had attributed those to the whooping cough (though that’s not a likely cause four months after contracting whooping cough). I’d also had a simultaneous touch of diarrhea, which I thought must have been simply something I ate. And I’d also noticed a few painful tiny blisters during the same time frame on the front of my uvula, in my throat–I didn’t know what they were, but since I only had them a few days, I hadn’t been overly concerned and didn’t seek any treatment. Then, about a week after the onset of all those symptoms, I’m in the ER with the most intense muscular pain I’ve ever experienced–I rated it a 9 out of 10 on the pain scale, and I usually take pain very well. Then the pain–and the other symptoms–disappear just a few days later. It all added up as the unique set of symptoms of Bornholm disease, caused by one of the Coxsackie viruses. Then, about four weeks later, guess what? The symptoms return–except the intercostal muscle pain is not nearly as severe as the first bout of pain was–more like a backache this time, with occasional mild spasms of the upper abdominals upon movement. It lasted a few days then went away. And then it came back a few weeks later, all together again.

Fast forward to two years later, and I still occasionally get recurrences of this set of symptoms. I can always tell when the “coxsackie back” (as I call the now mild ache that occurs in my intercostal muscles) is on its way when I start to cough and feel the recurrent tiny blisters appear on my soft palate and uvula. My nose will run also, and I still occasionally (but not at all recurrences) get either constipation or a touch of diarrhea. Also, about a year ago, I had shingles–and it is now know the coxsackie virus can instigate shingles as long, of course, as you were once infected with chicken pox (I’m 60, so I had chicken pox when I was little)

I told my primary care doctor about all this 6 months ago, and she had me tested for coxsackie virus. The results indicated “probable recent infection” versus active infection, but that made sense, since my recurrences are weak compared to the first time, and my body produces only a partial immune response to the virus. Well, when I told the infectious disease specialist I went to about my co-occurring, recurrent symptoms, my belief it had been Bornholm disease I’d had almost two years prior, and also showed her the test results, she pooh-poohed the idea that coxsackie virus could recur. She said the test results only showed I’d had coxsackie virus as a child sometime (no, the results clearly said “recent infection”) and that it was impossible for coxsackie virus to recur. She had no explanation for my recurrent symptoms and clearly thought I was a female hypochondriac.

Since then, I’ve continued to have recurrences of the symptoms, and have done many hours of research about coxsackie virus. There are numerous patient reports of adults having chronic coxsackie symptoms following Bornholm disease, but no formal research in this area. Also, only pediatricians seem to have an awareness that coxsackie virus can become chronic in rare cases–adult infectious disease doctors simply don’t mention this possibility and at least the one I went to seemed oblivious to it. There is no research being done on chronic cases and no recognition that adult cases can become symptomatically chronic–although it is now known that coxsackie virus can persist in the body at low levels, especially in the heart muscle, and can lead to congestive heart failure. I have concern that my unrecognized case will cause problems for me later, but I don’t believe going to another adult specialist will do me any good, since most seem unaware of the possibility of recurrence and chronicity, and besides, there’s no known treatment anyhow. So I just live with the recurrences, which are thankfully mild compared to the initial onset, and hope for the best in the years to come. But I do hope pediatricians will talk to their colleagues in adult infectious disease and let them know it is indeed possible for some strains of coxsackie virus to become chronic, especially when contracted while the patient has a compromised immune system, as I had when I first contracted the virus (following high does prednisone and another significant infection–whooping cough–that taxed my already fragile system).

I am 66 and have had hand mouth disease twice since October. I think it just lingers in my body. I have a mild rash on both hands and a few blisters pop up. It starts out with a horrible sore throat.i don’t think they know enough about it.

Could you tell us more?

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)
Vitamin B complex
Vitamin C
Vitamin D
Vitamin E
Cat’s Claw
Olive Leaf
Thuja Occidentalis

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.



I have been expecting very similar symptoms since 2015. There seems to be no rhyme or reason. I’m on my second outbreak in 6 weeks right now. I see my doctor in the morning. I’m hoping and praying for some relief. 😭

Hi Holly,

Did your bouts of HFM eventually stop? My daughter is going through a similar cycle of symptoms after contracting coxsackie last year. Thanks!


Hi holly this is the same as me
I had a cold sore it went after a week and then my period started yesterday I woke this morning with fat lips and blister on hands feet knees and elbows
Has your settled and what did you do.

I’ve been having it every ear for 3 years now first out brake I was 6 weeks pregnant
And was horrid. How ever I’ve always had codsores for as long as I can remember I’m now 28 and fed up of the hfmd as it stops me from leaving the house as my lips and hands look awful and don’t want to do the school run
Any help u can offer would be grate

Holly, have you read about BHT? Try googling it with + hsv. It’s been a miracle for a lot of people I know. All the best…

Hi Holly, I had what i thought was 4-5 rounds of HFMD in the last 3-4 months. It turned out it was my Crohns Disease. Do you have any history of inflammatory bowel disease in your family? Might be worth looking into? Hope you get some answers soon!

Holly, have a look at “Erythema Multiforme” ( ) My hand blisters look identical with the “bulls eye” appearance. The recurrent episodes, cold sore trigger, age bracket, scratchy eyes, all makes more sense than recurrent HFMD.

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..

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

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!

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?

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.


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?

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?

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.


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.


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?


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.


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

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. : * (

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


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.

Co-founder & Executive Producer, Mom

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?

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!

Co-founder & Executive Producer, Mom

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


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,

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


Very interesting question. 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.” and “Once people have had coxsackievirus A16 they are generally immune, but they could get another case of hand-foot-mouth disease from one of the other, less common viruses.

We don’t usually know which virus causes a particular case of HFM, but if a child has one strain and is exposed to another strain, it’s theoretically possible to catch the second strain. Theoretically.

Sorry I can’t be more definitive.

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!?

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!!!

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!


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?


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,

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.

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

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.

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.

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?

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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

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

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

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.

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?

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

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.

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

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.

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.


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

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.

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.

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?

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.

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


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

Hi Donna,

Dr. Greene wrote an article that answers your questions. You can read it here.

Hope that helps,

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

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!


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.

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?

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?

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

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!

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!!

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?

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.


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.

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.

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??

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