Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

I don’t remember ever getting this as a kid or any friends getting this, and yet now I feel like this has been a rite of passage for my kids generation. All of my children have had it and it continues to go around in our circles!

In my day the virus of choice was chicken pox, but now kids are vaccinated for that, so I have come to wonder if by ‘natrual selection’ this is the virus that has taken the place of chicken pox as the childhood illness to suffer through.

The virus that is the usual culprit is called the Coxsackie virus and is rarely serious. However, it can be fatal for the baby of a pregnant woman. It’s important to talk to your OB or midwife if you think you have had the virus or have been exposed. There is no treatment to take away the virus. It just needs to run it’s course. Just treat the symptoms until they pass.

It is also VERY contagious, so try to stay away from school and friends until the blisters dissipate, usually 7-10 days. Children are most contagious during the first 7 days or while they have a fever. The best way to stop the spread is with good hand washing, especially after wiping noses and changing diapers. The virus is spread by saliva and feces.

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The usual symptom is painful blisters on the palms of the hands, soles of the feet, and in the mouth. They are usually raised and white at the top. A fever and body aches may accompany the symptoms and occasionally the rash or blisters may appear around the mouth, in the diaper area, on the knees, elbows and buttocks. The younger the child, the more severe the symptoms can be. Most kids will have it before the age of 10, but if they are older, the symptoms tend to be much more mild.

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The sores are very painful in young children. So much so that they have a hard time eating and drinking and walking due to the pain. There is a serious risk of dehydration in toddlers. Below are some ideas of how to treat the symptoms and help survive the discomforts of this virus.

Suggested Natural Treatments:

  1. Lavender essential oil on the blisters for pain
  2. Lemon essential oil for fever and as an antiviral.
  3. Peppermint essential oil (diluted in a carrier oil) for fever
  4. Cold foods/ liquids for hydration and pain – examples include, ice chips, popsicles, smoothies, coconut water,
  5. Bone stock to boost the immune system
  6. Epsom salt bath with lavender oil to help soothe the pain and pull the virus out.
  7. Echinacea and/or Goldenseal to help boost the immune system
  8. Clove essential oil will also help with the mouth sores and pain, but it’s a VERY spicy oil, so be sure to dilute it well.
  9. Elderberry syrup – it is a strong antiviral and will also help with the mouth pain.
  10. Arnica for pain
  11. Belladonna for pain or fever

Traditional Treatments:

  1. Ibuprofen or Tylenol for fever and pain.
  2. 1:1 mix of Maalox and liquid Benadryl – Mix, swish in the mouth and throat and spit it out. This will help reduce some of the inflammation and help the pain. It’s expecially good to do before eating.

More severe symptoms to watch for:

  1. Dehydration – Children should urinate every 6-8 hours. If less frequent than that, increase their fluids. If they are refusing to drink, then they will need to be seen to receive IV fluids. Other symptoms of dehydration include lethargy, no tears when crying, dizziness and headache.
  2. Fingernail and Toenail loss – can occur if there are blisters beneath the nailbed. It isn’t permanent and they will grow back.
  3. Meningitis and Encephalitis are extremely rare, but worth watching for. Symptoms would include seizure, severe headache, paralysis, change or loss of speech, and syncope or loss of consciousness.

Hopefully this helps! Please comment to ask additional questions or for clarification. If you’ve done something different to treat this virus and you found it helpful, please let me know!

Medical Disclaimer: This information is meant to inform and not diagnose or treat illness or disease. Before trying any of the ideas posted please research for yourself in order to make an educated decision. Also, consult your doctor if trying to treat medical conditions.

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