When people hear of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease most people think of the Foot and Mouth disease that we heard on the news years ago causing the slaughter of livestock. However, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is totally different (phew!!). Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is a common, mild illness usually caused by a type of virus called an enterovirus.
It is usually caused by the coxsackie A virus, but in some cases can be caused by the coxsackie B or the enterovirus 71 virus. These names sound formidable so over the years it became commonly known as Hand, foot and mouth disease as the rash that develops on the palms of your hands and soles of your feet and ulcers may occur in the mouth. It normally effects children uder age ten but can affect adults.
The viruses that cause Hand Foot and Mouth are usually spread by touching contaminated objects that droplets have landed on, then placing hands near their mouth or nose. The virus stays in the faeces for about four weeks after the person has recovered. Therefore, hand-hygeine is very important.
As hand foot and mouth is a virus, it can’t be treated with antibiotics. There is no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease. The condition usually clears up by itself after 7 to 10 days. As it is caused by a viral infection, it cannot be treated with antibiotics.
Oisín first developed one small sore on his finger. It looked like a boil or a little cut that had gotten infected. We put sudocreme on it for as long as it would stay on without getting rubbed or licked off. After a couple of days he began to develop spots on his bottom and face. We then became suspicious and kept him out of creche. He started complaining of a sore mouth and more spots developed on his hands and feet. He developed a low-grade fever. All these symptoms indicated a classic case of Hand, Foot and Mouth.
For about a day he had poor appetite, we encouraged yogurts, ready-brek, custard, berries and ice-pops. Luckily he was happy to drink so we gave plenty of fluids (water, 7 up and diluted juice). I always believe when a child is sick a perfectly balanced diet is the least of their worries.
For the fever and pain we alternated Calpol and Neurofen as per his weight which was very effective.
For the mouth sores we applied Calgel a couple of times and it appeared to have eased the pain as there were no more complaints. Other anaesthetic mouthwashes or sprays could be used such as Difflam or baby bonjella. Regular bonjella can be used for adults. However, I have no experience with the use of these.
Typically, hand foot and mouth is a non itchy rash. However, Oisín complained he was itchy and sore. Some of the spots were red and inflamed. We gave him daily baths with bread soda, himalayan pink salt and a few drops of lavender and lemon oil. I also gave him a basin of warm water with these to play “washing up”. Thus, aiding to the sores on his hands. We applied camomile lotion to his body, sudocreme to his bottom and magnesium sulphate to the spot on his finger. We also gave Zirtek (an anti-histamine) to help with the itch.
I chose lavender oil as it is known to be to an anti-viral and disinfectant. Also, his sleep was broken for a night or two. I use lavender oil regularly for its calming properties and when add the lavender oil is added to his bath water or a carrier oil for a massage, Oisín always sleeps much better. The lemon oil helps with the elimination of toxins from the body. Tea tree oil would be an alternative as it is also an anti-viral, antiseptic and anti-fungal. The bread soda helps with the irritation and the himalayan pink salt aids healing. Epsom salts could also be used for their anti-inflammatory properties.
We also include a lot of garlic in our cooking which has anti-microbial properties. We also give Oisín pro-biotics (probably 3-4 times a week – when I remember!). The probiotics restore the balance of the good bacteria in the gut. Thus, allowing nutrients to be effectively absorbed into the body. Although these didn’t prevent him from getting hand, foot and mouth, I believe they are beneficial and keep him a generally happy and healthy child!
We always encourage hand hygeine but was extra vigilant. We sterilised his soothers and avoided sharing of towels, cups etc. I used Milton sterilsing fluid and anitbacterial wipes on surfaces, door handles and on his toys regularly.
Of course being around any illness or disease when pregnant is not ideal and would be best to avoid close contact with anyone who has it. However, thats not possible when its your own son. Lets face it, when kids are sick all they want is their Mammy! Thankfully, I am in my second trimester and there wasnt a risk to the baby. However, if hand, foot and mouth is contracted closer to the due date, there is a possibility of passing it onto a newborn. Thankfully, nobody else in our family had any symptoms.
The symptoms lasted about a week but were eased with all of the above. Thankfully, he is now back to his crazy little self. Although, he has a few remaining scars around his mouth that are healing but no other marks have been left on his skin.
This blog post is our experience with hand, foot and mouth. I am not an expert in the area. I am just a mama who is sharing what worked for us. Always seek medical advice when it comes to rashes. You can never be too cautious. Below are links to accredited websites that may be useful.
Thanks for reading
Snap Happy Mammy