This week has been miserable.
Mostly for the children, because they’ve had the illness. Hand, foot, and mouth disease, that is.
But it’s been miserable for mama too. Because when kids are unhappy, no one is happy.
And when children don’t sleep, mom and dad don’t sleep.
The worst night of it, poor Tiny was up at 1am, just miserable, and would not go to sleep. She stayed up til after 5, constantly demanding this and that. She finally crashed on the couch and got about 1.5 hours sleep. And then did NOT go back to sleep until after 10pm the next day.
I assure you, that was NOT a fun day.
Her feet itched so badly, she would just thrash around. If she fell asleep, it itched so badly, she woke up crying. We rubbed Caladryl(R) on her and did what we could. My husband finally had the idea of rubbing GoldBond foot powder on her feet. That FINALLY did the trick.
So, you may be asking:
Just what is Hand Foot and Mouth disease?
Besides being just terrible???
(all information taken from the CDC website)
- A viral illness
- No vaccine to prevent it
- Not a whole lot that can be done once you have it
- Mostly affects infants and children younger than 5 years old, but older children and adults can contract it
- The symptoms and actual illness can vary greatly
- Sore throat
- Reduced appetite
- Painful sores (on hands, feet, and mouth)
- Red bumps
You might have all or a variety of symptoms. You can also carry and pass on the virus even with no symptoms.
HFMD is highly contagious!
Here’s how different it was with my 3 kids:
Bug: (7 year old male)
- No fever, no sluggishness, no complaints of not feeling well
- Sores that looked like spider bites appeared on his hands that itched badly
- Then they popped up on his lips, feet and other areas
- Some of them blistered (the picture of the hands above are Bug’s after several days)
We did not even consider anything other than bug bites until after the girls got sick.
Bug’s feet: (ignore the dirt on them!)
Bean: (4 year old female)
- Complained of not feeling well
- Ran a fever between 99-100 for about 12 hours
- Sluggish for 2 days
- No other symptoms at all
- Day 3 – back to normal
Tiny: (2 year old female)
- Spiked high fever the same day as Bean. Hers got up to 103.7
- Sluggish all day. Vomited twice the first night.
- Feverish again day 2. Began to complain about itching.
- Day 3 – although no bumps or rash appeared, she was miserable with her feet itching. She could not sleep, thrashed around, and just had a terrible time for two days.
- Day 4 – rash began to appear on different parts of her body
- Rash began to blister and spread. Doesn’t blister everywhere
- Day 5 – no more itching, but still has a nasty rash
I kept Bug out of school two days, Bean out of school for one day, and Tiny has been stuck at home all week.
So how serious is Hand Foot and Mouth Disease?
It’s more gross than serious. Annoying as all get out. The poor things itch like crazy. It can get scary if they have high fever. The biggest concern for many of them is dehydration and not eating if the sores in their mouths and throat hurt too badly. (And in rare cases they can develop some very scary, fatal complications – like brain inflammation, and polio like diseases. Yikes!)
How does it spread?
It is highly contagious and can be passed through mucus, saliva, the blister fluid, and feces. You are most contagious for the first week.
- close contact, such as kissing hugging, or sharing cups and eating utensils,
- coughing and sneezing,
- contact with feces, for example when changing a diaper,
- contact with blister fluid, and
- touching objects or surfaces that have the virus on them.
Wash your hands!
With warm, soapy water. It’s flu season, you should be washing your hands like a fool now anyway.
How long should I keep my kid out of school?
I’m not an expert on this topic – so this is my OPINION. (Based on a conversation with my pediatrician, my husband, and lots of reading.)
- Follow all fever rules – don’t send them to school within 24 hours of the fever
- Watch the blisters. If they have oozing blisters that can’t be covered, it may be a good idea to keep them home an extra day
- For little ones, just keep them home til it’s cleared up. There’s no need to infect other children.
- For working parents that have no choice but to send them back to day care – this is a conversation you should have with the daycare management and your pediatrician.
It’s a virus, and unfortunately, just has to run it’s course. However, the pain and discomfort can be treated with over the counter, age appropriate fever reducers and pain relievers.
Prevent dehydration with plenty of fluids.
Ice cream, jello, Popsicles, and so forth are good for sore throats.
We found Caladryl, Gold Bond Triple Action Relief, and a home remedy of coconut oil and essential oils have helped greatly with the itching and the blisters.
- Wash hands frequently
- Avoid contact with infected people
- Disinfect surfaces regularly if someone has been sick
Finally, a week into it, the itching has stopped for Tiny, but the rash remains. I’ve kept her fairly quarantined when possible, and I believe we are on the road to recovery.
It’s gross. Yes it is.
Visit the CDC for all you could possibly want to know about hand foot and mouth disease!