Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD /Coxsackie virus) is a highly contagious viral illness common in babies and children especially under the age of 10. HFMD often runs rampant in day cares and schools freaking out parents, caregivers, and teachers with unsightly rash and blisters.
Though not fun, pleasant, or pretty, HFMD is no more serious than a bad cold or flu, usually running its course in about a week to 10 days in otherwise healthy children.
While western treatment is palliative, holistic medicine offers remedies to not only soothe symptoms but also to reduce the likelihood of infection and speed the course of healing in those who contract HFMD.
What are the symptoms?
Sudden onset with fatigue, fever, sore throat, and small red spot in the mouth (tongue, gums, and inside of the cheeks) that turn into blisters lasting 4 – 6 days. A non-itchy skin rash develops with flat or raised red spots that may also blister. The rash is usually located on the palms, fingers, and soles of the feet; it may also appear on the buttocks and/or genitalia.
Often confused with…
Chicken pox or strep throat. Also HFMD is not the same as foot-and-mouth or hoof-and-mouth disease, a completely unrelated illness of cows, sheep, and pigs.
How’s it spread?
Coughing and sneezing. Direct contact with nose and throat secretions and feces of infected persons.
How long til symptoms appear?
3 – 5 days from date of contact.
How long are you contagious?
While sick and sometimes longer. Most contagious during first week of illness.
How to prevent it?
Avoid close contact with infected persons and their infected belongings such as soiled tissues. Wash hands thoroughly, especially after using the bathroom. Follow standard wellness routine for cold/flu including Vitamin D, C, and anti-viral herbs such as echinacea and astragalus or your favorite Chinese herbal formula. Speak to your practitioner to insure you’re using effective measures for your family.
How to treat it?
Hydration is key with any fever (small sips of water, ice chips, or natural popsicles), and otherwise you want to keep the infected child as comfortable as possible so he/she can rest. Don’t worry if your child is not hungry while sick. Offer simple cooked foods such as broth, toast, or rice during the recovery phase. Avoid acidic foods that may irritate any mouth sores.
Only symptomatic treatments are available: You may reduce fever and discomfort with over-the-counter pain relievers but never aspirin and avoid acetaminophen, instead opt for ibuprofen. Mouthwashes or sprays that numb pain can be used to lessen mouth pain.
- Calendula and myrrh tinctures will speed the healing of mouth sores. Use as a mouthwash or swab onto sores using a cotton swab.
- Homeopathic Mercurius is the standard remedy for HFMD. Choose others if needed for specific symptoms.
- Chinese herbs can help soothe the symptoms while speeding the rate of recovery. Ask your practitioner for a custom formula to address the specific symptoms your child is experiencing including sore throat, fever, fatigue, rash, and sores.