Hand Foot Mouth in Adults


Hand foot mouth disease is a viral infection common amongst children. It affects adults as well but mostly they do not elicit any symptoms. Some of the symptoms are rashes on hand and foot and sores in mouth.

The cause for hand foot and mouth disease in adults is due to a virus known as coxsackievirus; this is a contagious disease therefore several precautions have to be taken like maintaining good hygiene, and educating oneself about the infection, etc. Sadly, there is no specific treatment for hand foot mouth disease but if proper care is taken then one can lessen the vulnerability to hand foot mouth in adults.

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Symptoms of Hand foot mouth in adults


Some of the signs and symptoms of hand foot mouth disease in adults are as follows:

  • Red colored rash on hand and feet. Sometimes rash may also affect the buttock. The rashes are not itchy, but in few cases they may swell up.
  • Sores in mouth
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite or reduced consumption of food
  • Malaise
  • Sore throat
  • Red colored swelled up painful lesions. It may occur on the gums, inner wall of cheeks and tongue.
  • Widespread sensations of being ill
  • Younger children will exhibit increased irritability.

The incubation time for the disease is usually three to five days. Incubation period is the time from when the virus 1st crop ups till the onset of symptoms of the hand foot mouth disease. Mostly the sequence of the illness is as follows:

  • Fever is the 1st symptom of the hand foot mouth disease
  • It is followed by sore throat, malaise and at times loss of appetite
  • Oral sores may occur within two to three days after the onset of fever. Rashes may develop after one or two days.

Hand foot mouth in adults can lead to various health problems which may be mild or severe. Some of these are:

  • One of the common sign of hand foot mouth in adults is dehydration. It is thus necessary to ensure adequate intake of water and other liquids. In case of severe dehydration, it may have to be treated through intravenous injection of fluids.
  • When hand foot mouth rashes are scratched to find relief from itchiness, then it can tear the skin resulting in an open cut. Such open wounds can easily be infected by bacteria and other germs.
  • Hand foot mouth in adults may also be due to a rare kind of coxsackievirus. This virus can affect the brain and lead to severe health problems. For example, it can cause viral meningitis or encephalitis. Viral meningitis causes swelling of the brain membranes or meninges. It can also affect the cerebrospinal liquid which covers the brain and spinal cord. Encephalitis is an uncommon but dangerous disease that causes swelling of the brain.
  • Difficulty in talking and swallowing food may occur due to sores in mouth and throat.

hand foot mouth disease adults

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Causes of Hand foot mouth in adults


The common cause for hand foot mouth disease in adults is a virus known as ‘coxsackievirus A16.’ This virus enters into the body through mouth causing hand foot mouth illness. It is associated with non-polio enteroviruses family of viruses. At times it may occur because of infection through some other type of enteroviruses. Infection can spread when a person suffering from hand foot mouth disease comes in direct contact with another person, like:

  • Sneezing, coughing; Respiratory drops are released into the air while sneezing or coughing which can spread the infection
  • Secretions by nose
  • Discharge through throat
  • Feces
  • Saliva
  • Also from fluid flowing out from blisters

In areas that experience temperate climate such as United States of America, the illness is common in summer and autumn seasons. In tropical areas people experience outbreaks of hand foot mouth disease for the whole year.

Few infected people, especially adults, may not elicit signs and symptoms as most of the adults have antibodies to fight back the effects of the virus. Therefore, they are immune to the illness and do not elicit signs of hand foot mouth disease. Infected adults whose immune system has not developed to fight back the disease may elicit symptoms and develop hand foot mouth rash.

Treatment of Hand foot mouth in adults


No specific treatments are available for hand foot mouth in adults. The signs and symptoms of hand foot mouth disease disappear on its own after seven or ten days. Some treatment methods to lessen the symptoms are:

  • Pain caused due to oral sores can be soothed through oral anesthetic cream.
  • OTC pain medicines can be opted to get relief from pain and slight discomfort.
  • Antibiotics can be used to treat secondary type of infection of hand foot mouth rash.
  • Warm water should be used to clean mouth after consumption of food.

Blisters in tongue, mouth or throat can become worse because of consumption of certain food and beverages. Care should be taken to avoid food items that may aggravate the condition.

  • Milk, ice water, ice cream, sherbet and cold drinks can be consumed.
  • Soft food items that doesn’t require excess chewing can be eaten
  • Suck on ice pops or ice chips
  • Salty and spicy food items should be avoided
  • Also citrus fruit drinks, soda and acidic beverage and foodstuffs should be avoided.

Precautionary steps such as thorough washing of hands; disinfecting common places; isolation of infected individual; and good personal habits are recommended.

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