I get countless messages asking me what to do when a little one gets Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease – it is obviously doing the rounds of the schools, nurseries and play centres in the UK. This is painful and not fun at all, but the rash looks more alarming than it really is.
Here, I’ve pulled together my top tips on gentle, natural remedies to help things be more comfortable for your little ones and less stressful for you.
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So, what is Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease?
Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease is a viral-induced common childhood illness (usually an outcome of picking up either coxsackievirus a16 or enterovirus 71 which are very common viruses). The first signs of hand, foot and mouth disease can be:
- a sore throat
- a high temperature, above 38C
- not wanting to eat
After a few days mouth ulcers and a rash will appear. Ulcers appear in the mouth and on the tongue which can be very painful and make it difficult to eat or drink. Red spots, which develop into blisters, also usually appear on the hands and feet.
It is very infectious and also can easily be passed onto parents. The symptoms are usually the same in adults and children, but they can be much worse for the grown-ups. It is also worth noting that it is possible to get Hand, Foot and Mouth disease more than once and that it has nothing to do with the foot and mouth disease that affects farm animals.
How long will it last?
Most of the time Hand, Foot and Mouth lasts 7-10 days and can make the mouth very sore, so your little one might go off their food during this time.
What natural remedies can help?
Keeping fluids up is the most important thing whilst they are unwell to avoid dehydration and this is where soups, smoothies, home-made ice lollies and Kefir can be great saviours.
Mother Nature’s most powerful antiviral is probably Elderberry Syrup and this is always our go-to when viruses hit our household. Active Honeys such as Red Gum Honey or Jarrah Honey also have natural antiviral properties and because they are delicious, they can really perk little ones up when they are feeling rubbish and run down.
To help with the sore spots dab on some Active Silver ‘Magic’ Gel – it really is ‘magic’ in my mind and lovely and soothing – it is always in my fridge just in case.
What can I do to prevent the illness spreading?
Hand, Foot and Mouth is highly infectious and easily passed to others. Here are a few key ways to reduce the risk of spreading it to friends and family:
- Wash hands well regularly with warm soapy water.
- Use tissues when coughing or sneezing and dispose of them straight away.
- Don’t share cups, cutlery or towels.
- Wash any soiled bedding and clothing on a hot wash.
Your child will be infectious from a few days before showing symptoms but they are most prone to passing it onto others in the first 5 days after symptoms start so that’s the time to be ultra hot on the above.
Children should be kept off school or nursery while they’re feeling unwell but when they’re feeling better they can return. Unlike chicken pox, there isn’t the need to wait until all blisters have healed.
So, although a nasty uncomfortable disease, there are a lot of natural ways to soothe the symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease. It is worth saying though that if your child’s symptoms don’t improve after 7-10 days; your child has a very high temperature; feels hot and shivery; is dehydrated or you are pregnant and you contract it, it is best to contact your doctor for further advice.