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Why Does Skin Peel After Hand Foot Mouth

Skin peeling after Hand Foot Mouth Disease is a common symptom that occurs in most people who contract the virus. The skin around the mouth, hands, and feet are affected by the condition. This can be due to the fact that these areas are more susceptible to infections and other diseases like Hand Foot Mouth Disease.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to treat peeling skin from hand foot and mouth and hand foot and mouth quarantine period.

Why Does Skin Peel After Hand Foot Mouth

Between late July and early September of 2018, three major league baseball pitchers — all on different teams — came down with hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), a highly contagious illness transmitted by a virus. (The pitchers were Noah Syndergaard of the New York Mets, J.A. Happ of the New York Yankees and Brad Peacock of the Houston Astros.)

While three high-profile cases of the disease hardly qualify as an outbreak, the cases were unusual because the infection is more likely to strike young children than it is adults, according to the Mayo Clinic.

HFMD can spread quickly in child care centers, preschools and elementary schools, but outbreaks of the virus have also been reported on college campuses, where the close quarters of dorms and locker rooms mean that more people can become infected.

The disease usually affects children younger than 5 years old, but older kids and adults can sometimes get HFMD too, said Dr. Luis Manrique, an infectious disease specialist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois. Usually, teens and adults have developed immunity to the disease because they have built up antibodies after being exposed to the virus in their early years, he said.


As its name suggests, hand, foot and mouth disease can affect these three locations on the body and may cause the following symptoms:

  • Mild fever;
  • Sore throat;
  • Painful mouth sores that usually begin as flat red spots, then may blister; and
  • A rash of flat red spots that may blister on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The rash may also appear on the back side of the hands and on arms and legs.

Symptoms of HFMD usually appear in stages and typically don’t occur all at once, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In children, the illness usually starts with a mild fever, and a day or two later, the first signs of the disease may show up in the mouth. A child may have sore throat pain and painful sores, or blisters may develop in the back of the mouth and on the tongue, inner cheeks and gums, Manrique told Live Science. A day or two later, red spots may spread to the hands, feet and buttocks.

Early symptoms in very young children with limited verbal skills may include crying more, eating less and having a temperature of up to 101 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), Manrique said.

The painful mouth sores may cause young children to become dehydrated if they can’t drink enough liquids, Manrique said. Another clue that helps doctors diagnose HFMD is that the rash tends to be symmetrical, he said, meaning it develops on both hands and both feet.

The rash might be painful, but it’s not itchy like chickenpox, Manrique said. It may look like bumps with a red rim, and some may blister and have fluid inside of them.

Causes and risk factors

The main causes of HFMD are two different types of enteroviruses, or single-stranded RNA viruses:

Coxsackievirus A16 is the most common cause of HFMD in the U.S., but other strains of coxsackievirus can also be responsible, according to the CDC.

Enterovirus 71 is another pathogen that may be responsible for causing the infection.

There is no clear explanation for why the illness targets a person’s hand, foot and mouth and not other parts of the body; it’s just the way the virus behaves, Manrique said.

People may pick up the virus that causes HFMD and spread it in the following ways, according to the CDC:

  • By coming into close contact with an infected person, such as kissing, hugging, sharing cups and eating utensils;
  • By touching objects, such as toys, doorknobs and countertops, or surfaces that have the virus on them;
  • By being exposed to an infected person’s saliva and nasal secretions, which may contain the virus, while they are coughing or sneezing;
  • By having contact with an infected child’s poop, such as when a caregiver is changing a diaper; and
  • By touching an infected person’s blister fluid.

HFMD is sometimes confused with foot and mouth disease (also called hoof and mouth disease), which is a viral infection that exclusively affects farm animals, such as cows, sheep and pigs. The two diseases are not the same; humans do not contract or transmit the animal disease and animals don’t get or transmit HFMD.


A person with HFMD is most contagious during the first week of the illness, spreading it via respiratory secretions, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. However, the virus can remain in the body, especially the stool, for weeks after symptoms have gone away.

And some people, especially adults, can spread the virus without ever showing any signs or symptoms of the disease, according to Mayo Clinic.

To prevent the spread of this highly contagious virus, health experts recommend taking the following steps:

  • Wash hands often with soap and warm water, especially after changing a diaper and using the bathroom. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid close contact with infected people.


A physical exam, including a close look at the rash and mouth sores, can help doctors diagnose HFMD. The characteristics of the rash are unique to the disease, making it recognizable to pediatricians, the doctors who see it the most often, Manrique said. In rare cases, a throat culture or stool sample may be taken and sent to a lab for analysis.


HFMD is usually a mild illness that people typically recover from in seven to 10 days, according to the CDC. Children may need acetaminophen to help ease fever or pain, Manrique said. Drinking plenty of cold liquids is also recommended, but patients should stay away from citrus juices or soda, because the acids in them can cause irritation and burn mouth sores.

To relieve mouth sores, avoid giving a child regular mouthwash, which may sting. Instead, a pediatrician may recommend a mouth rinse or spray to reduce pain.

In rare instances, an infected person may develop viral meningitis, an inflammation of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord, and need to be hospitalized.

After having a severe case of the illness, some children’s fingernails and toenails fall off, but their nails grew back without any treatment, according to the CDC. Patients may also experience peeling skin on their hands and feet after the illness has run its course.

If a child has had HFMD, it’s possible they’ll get the infection again. Repeat infections can occur because a child may have immunity to just one type of HFMD-causing virus but not another type, making the child vulnerable to a second bout with the illness, Manrique said.

Long Term Effects Of Hand Foot And Mouth Disease In Adults

When we typically think of catching an illness from kids, it tends to revolve around the usual yucks: colds, the flu and maybe a stomach bug. But other more serious illnesses that are frequent in kids can affect adults, too.

One of those is hand, foot and mouth disease, a viral infection that’s very contagious and mostly affects infants and younger children, as it can spread very quickly in environments like a nursery or daycare. But adults are susceptible to the disease and its painful symptoms, as well. Family medicine specialist Neha Vyas, MDexplains what you can expect from an adult case of the disease.

How can adults get hand, foot and mouth disease?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection, which means adults, like children, catch the virus from others. In hand, foot and mouth disease, coxsackievirus 16 is usually the responsible virus. Less often, other enteroviruses are to blame.

“Hand, foot and mouth disease spreads quickly, especially in the spring, summer and early fall,” says Dr. Vyas. It catches on like wildfire in crowded living conditions (think college dorms). “So it’s possible to get it all year long — even in the winter months,” she adds.

Why does hand, foot and mouth disease literally “go viral” so quickly? Because it’s passed on in three different ways:

  • From mouth to mouth — not just by kissing, but also by being close.
  • From inhaling respiratory droplets.
  • From touching fecal matter, which then finds its way into your mouth.

“The other reason it’s so easily transmitted is that you can pass it on to others before you have symptoms because you don’t realize you’re ill,” says Dr. Vyas.

What are the symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease?

There are generally two stages of symptoms for both adults and children. During the first, stage, you’ll typically experience flu-like symptoms, including:

  • Mild fever.
  • Sore throat.
  • Runny nose.
  • Little appetite.

These early symptoms fade after a few days, followed by the next wave of symptoms from which the disease gets its name. These include:

  • Itchy rash on the palms of your hand, soles of your feet, knees, elbows, genitals or butt cheeks.
  • Painful, blister-like mouth sores.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your neck.

“Fever and feeling ill are the worst of it until you see blisters in your mouth and on your hands, that’s what gives it away,” says Dr. Vyas. These tiny, fluid-filled blisters can develop in your throat, on your tongue or your inner cheek, as well as on your hands and feet.

“While kids usually have vesicles, adults don’t always get them — so their hand, foot and mouth disease often goes unrecognized,” she notes.

How long does hand, foot and mouth disease last in adults?

Overall, the disease usually resolves in a few weeks but some symptoms may linger longer. Symptoms like fever and sore throat last for a week or so. Hand lesions can last for two weeks, throat lesions can last for a few weeks and foot lesions can last for several weeks, notes Dr. Vyas.

“The blisters can be painful, so when you have them in your mouth, as kids do, it can hurt to swallow,” she adds.

Doctors generally don’t treat hand, foot and mouth disease. Instead, they recommend supportive care, like using acetaminophen (Tylenol®) and ibuprofen (Advil®) for fever and pain.

Can adults go to work with hand, foot and mouth disease?

No. Because the disease is contagious, you should stay home to prevent the spread to others, especially within the first few days. When you’re diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease, it’s important to take universal precautions:

  • Wash your hands before you eat.
  • Disinfect all surfaces you touch, especially doorknobs, faucets and toilet handles.
  • Stay home from work, school and social events.

And because you can have hand, foot and mouth disease without knowing it, “avoid people who are elderly or immunocompromised at the first sign of a fever,” stresses Dr. Vyas. “And it’s also important to stay away from pregnant women, especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy.”

Is hand, foot and mouth disease serious in adults?

“The long and short of it is that hand, foot and mouth disease can be problematic,” says Dr. Vyas. “Meningitis is a big worry because, like all viruses, it can cross the blood-brain barrier. It can also infect the heart and cause myocarditis.”

She hastens to add that those who are susceptible to complications are usually sick to begin with — for example, they may be elderly or frail, or have cancer or other diseases that weaken their immune system.

But hand, foot and mouth disease is also risky for healthy people who are pregnant because it increases the risk of stillbirth. Also, late in pregnancy, a baby can become infected in the womb even if the mother isn’t.

Those situations aside, Dr. Vyas stresses that the likelihood of complications from hand, foot and mouth disease in healthy adults remains low.

How To Treat Peeling Skin From Hand Foot And Mouth

Despite the fact that there is no medical cure or treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease, your physician can assist you in thinking of methods to make your child more comfortable as the condition progresses, according to Auth. Here are several natural treatments for hand, foot, and mouth illness.

nonprescription painkillers. Ask your pediatrician about suitable painkillers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), and follow the dosage instructions for your child’s age. According to Spanier, taking them 30 minutes before eating helps lessen the discomfort of eating and drinking. OTC painkillers are also advised by experts to assist lower a temperature. If your child’s temperature persists after taking a painkiller, inform your pediatrician.
many liquids. Make sure your youngster is getting enough fluids, whether it be through breast milk, formula, or, if he’s older, water, advises Auth. Keep an eye on your urine output: Call your pediatrician if your child has fewer than three wet diapers during the course of the day or, if they are potty trained, less than three trips to the bathroom. Making sure your child is crying wet tears is another approach to make sure he or she is adequately hydrated, according to Spanier. “He has to visit a pediatrician right away if he’s weeping without tears, which is a symptom that he might be dehydrated.”
soft or cold food. Ice pops, here we come! A sore throat and aching mouth will be relieved by foods that are cooling and simple to eat. Make pudding, applesauce, chilled soups, or smoothies for an older child and breast milk ice pops for the newborn.
Lips blisters in the mouth. Many of the parents Kohl has encountered mix Maalox and Benadryl before applying the concoction to oral sores with a Q-tip. Like with over-the-counter pain relievers, consult your physician before using this treatment as it may assist to relieve discomfort and make it easier for infants and young children to drink.
Rest. The best hand, foot, and mouth disease treatment for your child is lots of cuddles and snuggles on the sofa. Your child is likely to be grumpy, especially if she has a temperature or is in pain.

Hand Foot And Mouth Quarantine Period

If a child has numerous blisters, the child may need to stay at home until the blisters heal. That takes roughly seven days.

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