Feb 24

My HFMD experience

by LifeLoveLaura on February 24, 2014

*Warning: this post contains some manky photos*

I woke up in the night a couple of weeks ago with some really itchy spots on my scalp and ears and wondered where the hell they’d come from. I briefly wondered whether there was a blood hungry bug lingering around my bedroom but after a quick scratch I fell back asleep, not thinking any more of it. The next day I took Little T to soft play and my itchy head was still plaguing me, trying my hardest not to scratch in public as I didn’t want fellow mums to think I had knits! Oh the joys. Then, on the Wednesday morning, my 5.45am “get up for work you lazy bastard” alarm graced me with its presence. I rolled myself out of bed around 6.15am and hopped in the shower. Returning back upstairs to get myself ready for the looong day at work ahead, I noticed the palms of my hands were covered in red spots. Then it hit me – my 11 months old niece had just recovered from hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), had I caught her lurgy??

The first day of blisters

hand foot and mouth disease in adults

hand foot and mouth disease in adults

hand foot and mouth disease in adults

hand foot and mouth disease in adults

hand foot and mouth disease in adults

I rang work asap and asked for advice. Due to the nature of my job and because HFMD is so contagious, I knew that if it was HFMD I wouldn’t be able to go into work. I was advised to stay at home and speak to my manager later on. I felt like a bit of a fraud as my body felt fine but my hands were covered in pins and needles inducing spots. This also explained why my head had been so itchy the couple of days before!

I rang my doctors as soon as they opened for an official diagnosis. Fortunately they didn’t want me in to have a look, they told me over the phone that that was what I had, judging by the symptoms but they also told me that, from an infection control point of view, there was no reason why I should be off work. This confused me as I had read that once spots are visible, you are still infectious as you can pass on the disease through (sorry) your blister juice. There’s probably a less gross, more medical term for that but frankly, I don’t want to google it! I rang my occupational health department for a second opinion and their advice was in tow with what I’d read - they were adamant that I didn’t go into work to prevent spreading the disease. I’m not really sure what my GP was on that morning, maybe they need to do a bit more reading! All I can say is, it’s a bloody good job I didn’t go into work. As the day went on the burning and itchiness got progressively worse, there was no way I could’ve done my job or complied with any of the important hand washing policies, ouch!!

What I had read on few websites is that it is uncommon for adults to get HFMD but my sister in law and I both caught it off my niece and I know of a few other adults that have had it around the same time as us. It’s evolving! The NHS HFMD advice site also states that the disease isn’t itchy and is “painless.” This is a LIE! I have never experienced anything so unpleasant.  Two days after the spots on my hands came out, they also erupted on my feet and both were unbearably itchy, just like my scalp had been a few nights previously. Along with the itching came severe burning and there was no way of relieving this. There’s no treatment, it’s just a case of riding it out but in the meantime I tried copious amounts of co-codamol for shits and giggles, Eurax and E45 anti itching creams, all to no avail. Vaseline with aloe vera didn’t help the itching either but it did act as a lubricant so I could vigorously rub my hands together – the only thing that came anywhere close to relieving the itching. It’s also a good job that the radiator in our bedroom is at the head of our bed as laying with my hands flat against the cold metal surface was the only relief from the burning. Simply, I didn’t sleep for at least three nights because of the irritation. Rubbing my feet on my bottom sheet and causing friction was the only way I discovered to aid the itchiness of my trotters! All in all, it was pretty awful.

Then the big fat juicy blisters popped up. I felt like a witch.

More developed blisters

hand foot and mouth disease in adults

hand foot and mouth disease in adults

hand foot and mouth disease in adults

After three days of intense pain and itching, it started to subside to more of a pins and needles feeling, like when it first starts. It is still quite unpleasant but I could finally do things again. I had spent my time with the lurgy not being able to do anything, I couldn’t even put on a bra from the pain! Itchy scratchy weepy face spots and big fat sore lip blisters were also beautiful. No, like really beautiful. The most important things that you have to do when you have HFMD is good hand hygiene and not share pillows or towels with anybody. You have to treat it like trying to keep a stomach bug at bay.

The worst part of it was having to stay well away from Little T. When your 17 month old is toddling up to you for kisses and cuddles and you have to say no, it was soul destroying to see his little disappointed face. Fuck you hand, foot and mouth! I still have the spots on my hands although the blisters have crusted and are healing. The red, flat spots have faded slightly but look like they might linger for some time. Thankfully though, I am no longer contagious and returned to work last week. I am still quite conscious of the spots on my hands, they look pretty gross! Some would argue that this is “TMI” at its very best but I am sharing this as HFMD seems to be really prevalent at the moment. My sister in law’s GP was very surprised to find out that her and I had both caught it off my niece. That, along with my GP’s dud advice and the NHS website’s incorrect symptoms makes me wonder if there needs to be more research on HFMD in adults?

It is easy for us to bang on about the pleasant things in life on our blogs but unfortunately life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, life can sometimes be all witch boils and plague!

Laura x

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Hannah | MakeDo&Push February 24, 2014 at 10:44 pm

As you know I’m suffering from this sexy disease at the moment. The impression I get is that people (the NHS) don’t know enough about it to be able to advise; hence the mixed responses you’ve had. It also seems to be completely different for other people. We’re fairly convinced that Bea has had it and Nick thinks he has too – but neither of them suffered from the mouth and tongue ulcers that have taken over my mouth!

Anyway, enough of the sexiness. I’m off to bed with codeine and ice cubes… xxx
Hannah | MakeDo&Push recently posted…The Week That Was: Captured #34My Profile

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LifeLoveLaura February 24, 2014 at 10:53 pm

Oh Hannah, I hope the ice and pills work! The “mouth” part of mine affected mainly my chin and lips, didn’t get any ulcers inside my mouth thankfully. It sounds awful! My hands were the worse affected. But you’re right, my sis in law’s GP actually used the word “epidemic” as he’s never seen so much of it around as there is right now. More research needs doing in adults! Get better soon xxx

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