Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a contagious viral illness. It commonly affects infants and young children and is more prevalent from spring until fall (it likes warm weather).
What Causes Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?
Strains of coxsackievirus, most commonly coxsackievirus A16, cause hand, foot, and mouth disease (HFMD). As you know, viruses are very easily spread from person to person. You or your child may contract hand, foot, and mouth disease from the “spray” that leaves the mouth when someone with HFMD coughs or sneezes. You can also catch this disease by touching surfaces that have traces of the virus.
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is very easily spread in a daycare, school, or playgroup setting. Children who are of the age where they like to put their fingers and other objects in their mouth of very likely to contract hand, foot, and mouth disease if exposed to it. It is less likely to be found on playground equipment and other outdoor areas because the amount of oxygen in the fresh air typically kills the virus quickly.
Symptoms of Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
Symptoms begin to develop three to seven days after infection. The characteristic blisters and rashes show up later, usually four to nine days after infection. Some or all of the following symptoms may occur during the course of the disease:
- Poor appetite (easting itself it difficult and often painful)
- Sore throat
- Painful, red blisters in the mouth, including on the tongue and gums (these eventually turn into open sores when they break open)
- A red rash on the hands and the soles of the feet – this rash may be extremely painful, causing a lot of discomfort but usually it does not itch
How To Support Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease Naturally
Licorice, lemon balm, echinacea, astragalus, usnea, and garlic are all incredibly powerful antiviral agents and immune boosters. You can use these herbs in tinctures and teas to help support your child and he or she battles HFMD. You can also turn a tea into an herbal popsicle which feels very soothing on the blistered throat.
Chamomile, elder flowers, spearmint, wintergreen, ginger, and linden flowers also make a great tea or herbal popsicle. Be sure to add a touch of raw honey to make herbal popsicles more appealing. They tend to be a bit bitter.
Herbals bath (especially herbal hand and foot soaks) can provide a lot of relief from the pain of the blisters. Make a strong herbal infusion from calendula flowers, comfrey leaf, and burdock root, then add it to a bath or soak.
As soon as you see the signs of hand, foot, and mouth disease, you can mix up a wonderful mouth wash for children who are old enough to be able to correctly use it. This wash is ONLY for blisters in the mouth and must be spit out.
There are fewer choices when it comes to treating hand, foot, and mouth disease in infants. The herbal soaks are generally considered safe but again, check with your practitioner before giving anything internally.
Has your child battled hand, foot, and mouth disease? Any other tips or tricks you can share?