Online Dermatologist > Stages of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Adults

Stages of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease in Adults

by | Oct 4, 2023 | Blog

Adults have different stages of hand, foot, and mouth disease. It is essential to be able to identify these stages so that appropriate treatment can be administered.

In this article post, we will shed light on different stages of hand, foot, and mouth disease in adults and the associated symptoms. We will also provide some exceptional tips on how to manage this condition best. Stay tuned for more information!

hand foot and mouth disease


What is Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease?

Hand, foot, and mouth diseases, or HFMD, are highly contagious illnesses that typically affect young adults. This condition is caused by different viruses, which can cause symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and sores in the mouth and on the hands and feet. Although HFMD can sometimes be quite severe for adults, most cases only cause minor discomfort. 


Stages of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease

The usual signs and symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever and a characteristic rash on the hands, feet, and mouth. The rash typically consists of small, red bumps that may blister or ulcerate. The bumps can be painful, particularly when they are located on the soles of the feet.

The illness is caused by a group of viruses known as enteroviruses. The most common of these viruses is coxsackievirus A16, but other enteroviruses can also cause the infection. These viruses are spread through very close contact with an infected person, typically through respiratory secretions or contact with contaminated surfaces.

The incubation period for hand, foot, and mouth disease are typically 3-5 days. The illness usually begins with a fever, followed by the development of the characteristic rash. The rash typically appears on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet and then spreads to the rest of the body. In some cases, blisters or ulcers can form in the mouth.

Most people with hand, foot, and mouth disease recover completely within a week. However, young adults are at risk for more severe illnesses, such as dehydration from fever or secondary bacterial infections.



Investigations for Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease

To accurately diagnose the cause of HFMD, it is necessary to perform a series of investigations. These may include testing for specific viruses or bacteria and taking samples of the patient’s blood or other bodily fluids for analysis. Additionally, experts may look for any potential environmental triggers, such as exposure to certain chemicals or toxic substances.

Ultimately, these investigations’ results can help physicians determine the best course of treatment for their patients, depending on which pathogens are involved. While there is no specific cure for HFMD, early detection and targeted treatment can help reduce its severity and improve outcomes. Thus, continued efforts to track and monitor this condition are critical to ensure the health and well-being of those affected.


Treatment options 

There are several ways to treat hand, foot, and mouth diseases. Treatment usually focuses on relieving symptoms while the body fights off the infection on its own. This can include taking over-the-counter pain relievers, drinking plenty of fluids, and getting rest. In some cases, a healthcare practitioner may prescribe antiviral medication to help shorten the duration of the illness.

Most people with hand, foot, and mouth disease recover within a week or two. However, it is vital to see a doctor if you experience severe symptoms, such as difficulty swallowing or breathing, dehydration, or fever lasting longer than three days. These could be signs of a more severe condition, such as meningitis or encephalitis. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to avoid complications.

You can do a few things at home to help ease symptoms and speed recovery. Be sure to:

  • Drink plenty of fluids. This will help prevent dehydration and keep your throat moist. Try drinking at least eight glasses of water or other fluids daily. Avoid acidic drinks, such as orange juice, which can irritate your throat.
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers. These can help relieve fever and pain associated with the sores in your mouth.
  • Get plenty of rest. Getting enough sleep will help your body fight off the infection and speed recovery.
  • Gargle with salt water. This can help soothe a sore throat. Mix 1 teaspoon salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle for 30 seconds.
  • Suck on ice chips or popsicles. These can help numb your mouth and throat, making eating and drinking more comfortable.
  • Get checked by a First Derm online dermatologist if you have any questions about treatment or home care. They can provide the information and guidance you need to get through this illness as quickly and comfortably as possible.


Prevention against hand, foot, and mouth disease

While there is no cure for this disease, it can be effectively prevented by taking specific steps to reduce exposure. 

Preventive measures include:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
    • Especially after changing diapers.
    • After using the toilet.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze.
  • Avoid close contact with individuals who have HFMD.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects.

[CDC Guidelines on HFMD]

Additionally, it is essential to maintain good overall health through a balanced diet and regular exercise since these factors can help keep your immune system strong and protect against various types of infections. Following these guidelines and caring for yourself can significantly reduce your chances of contracting hand, foot, and mouth disease. 



Hand, foot, and mouth diseases are relatively common, especially among young adults. While the symptoms can be quite unpleasant and may require medical treatment, in most cases, the prognosis of hand, foot, and mouth disease is generally perfect.

The infection typically resolves within two to three weeks. While some viral infections can have long-term effects on the immune system, there’s no evidence suggesting HFMD causes prolonged immunosuppression. This means that individuals with hand, foot, and mouth diseases are more likely to experience subsequent infections.

However, thanks to advances in medicine and increasing awareness about hand, foot, and mouth disease, most patients can fully expect to recover from this infection without significant complications. So while having hand, foot, and mouth disease is certainly no fun, it is generally a reasonably trivial condition that will not cause any significant problems in the long run.



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms and Diagnosis of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. Updated August 10, 2022. Accessed October 17, 2023. Available at:
  2. Gomes S, Santos S, Ferreira Maia I, Verissimo R, Carvalho T. Hand-Foot-Mouth Disease in an Adult. Cureus. 2023;15(1):e33670. Published 2023 Jan 11. doi:10.7759/cureus.33670
  3. Zhu P, Ji W, Li D, et al. Current status of hand-foot-and-mouth disease. J Biomed Sci. 2023;30(1):15. Published 2023 Feb 24. doi:10.1186/s12929-023-00908-4
  4. Guerra AM, Orille E, Waseem M. Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island, FL: StatPearls Publishing; Updated October 9, 2022.

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