The 6 Symptoms To Determine If Your Child Has Hand-Foot-And-Mouth Disease

Sulaiman, Ayub and I have hand-foot-and-mouth disease. I caught it early and had been treating their symptoms before the official diagnosis so there’s nothing to be alarmed about.

Turns out it’s very common in children under 5, especially if they attend a day care center. That’s Sulaiman in a nutshell.

The problem with HFMD is the symptoms are so random and unrelated, and could easily be something else completely. Plus a person doesn’t necessarily have to display all the symptoms in order to have the disease.

I guess in a weird way I was lucky that three of us got it, because our symptoms combined gave me the big picture of what we were suffering from.

Here are the symptoms we had, indicating hand-foot-and-mouth disease:


1. Rashes

Sulaiman started having rashes on his hands. I mistook it as eczema (something we all have on a recurring basis). It spread across his whole body (this is supposedly unusual for HFMD according to the doc).

That same week I was breaking out in rashes on my hands and forearms. Ayub then started getting terrible itches on his feet, knees, hands and bum.

The rashes are like little red dots. But the boys scratched so much that they turned into eczema.


2. Sore Throat

Sulaiman skipped this symptom. Ayub had a mild sore throat, but nothing serious. He ate and drank as usual. But I got it bad. Despite the fact that I drink between two to three liters of water a day. It’s now turned into monster tonsillitis and is incredibly painful 🙁 I’ve had to go on a liquid diet because I just can’t swallow!

hand foot mouth disease

3. Fever

The only one of us hit with fever was Ayub. I gave him over-the-counter children’s Panadol. And it subsided significantly. I assumed the fever was the result of his sore throat.


4. Malaise (generally feeling unwell or sick)

This is the best way for me to determine how sick the kids are. Unless it’s very serious, they never have malaise. Both are incredibly active and loud, constantly talking, running, jumping and eating. When that stops, then I know it’s bad.

This time neither showed signs of feeling unwell.

I, on the other hand, felt like crap. Just a week ago I had a double dose of awful with UTI and food poisoning at the same time. So I figured I was still feeling the residue of that.


5. Ulcers

Sulaiman and I were spared of ulcers. Ayub was not so lucky. He’s the only one who had ulcers in his mouth. Again, I linked it to his sore throat and fever, thinking it was a result of not drinking enough water.


6. Cold Sores

I only noticed when I was at work that I had developed a cold sore on the side of my mouth. I remember seeing it in the mirror at the ladies’ bathroom and thinking, oh-crap-I-have-herpes :/

Later that evening when I picked the boys up from day care, Sulaiman had a cold sore too. This was the last symptom we displayed, and it was only then that I realized it was HFMD. Matching cold sores are just to random to not be related.


I did a little online research and found that every symptom we had been through pointed to HFMD. Unfortunately there’s neither a cure nor treatment. Just symptomatic treatment. Which I had been providing the whole week anyway.

When I brought the boys to the clinic, Sulaiman’s HFMD had all but cleared up and aside from the itchiness, Ayub was showing signs of beating the disease.

They’ve been spending that last three days at home with me and show no signs of feeling ill.

But it’s important to catch it early and treat the symptoms. I recall a few years ago, my then-husband’s sister didn’t catch it early in her 2-year old. He had to be hospitalized for a week or so and it was incredibly life-threatening.

Best advice, mom-to-mom? Know your kids 😉 And always check with a doctor.



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Laila Zain

Laila is a working mama who married young, had two beautiful boys, went through a shitty divorce, met an amazing man, remarried, and had a beautiful girl. Her eldest boy is a rainbow baby and special needs child. Her second is ridiculously smart. Her baby is a baby.

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