5 Things You need to Know About Hand, Foot and Mouth

woman's hand baby feet

We’ve been struck again!

Little S is currently suffering from his first case of hand, foot and mouth (hfm). I mean, firsts are usually milestones in a child’s life but we don’t really feel like celebrating this one.

Hfm is by no means new to us because J has had it a few times and if you’re a mom you’re probably also familiar with it, but if you’re a new mom who has no idea what I’m talking about I’m afraid to say you can probably expect it sometime soon.

The thing about hfm is that it’s like haemorrhoids. We all get them – some more than others, they’re really painful, but they’re quite embarrassing, we don’t want anybody to know we have them and we certainly don’t want to talk about them.

So hfm is a secret we keep to ourselves if our kids get it, for fear of people recoiling from our kids in horror or being ostracised in our mommy-and-me classes or being shunned from playdates.

But all of our kids get it at some point. So considering it is so widespread, here are a few things I think you should know about it, so you don’t think your child is suffering from some frightening affliction:

What is hand, foot and mouth?

Not to be confused with foot and mouth – which is a disease of cows, pigs and sheep – hfm is caused by the humorously named Coxsackie virus.

What are the symptoms?

On the weekend S had a raging fever for two days and totally lost his appetite – if you know our son you’ll know that’s the first sign something is wrong, because he eats everything, all the time. He was also snotting and drooling like a mofo, so we assumed it was teething, like we always do. Then last night (Tuesday) we noticed a small rash on his hands and feet. Fml.

He is basically the poster boy of hfm:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite (because of the sores in the mouth)
  • runny nose
  • rash or sores on hands, feet, in mouth and around diaper area – sometimes these blister

How can you treat hfm?

Unfortunately there’s not much you can do. Nurofen or Calpol for the fever and if you think they are struggling with mouth sores, but because it’s viral antibiotics are not going to help in this case.

If your little doesn’t want to eat, try soft, cold food like yoghurt, and make sure they stay hydrated.

And, of course, lots of loving and hugs.

And wine for mom and dad.

How is hfm spread?

It can be spread by contact with the rash/sores but also through snot and stool. Make sure everyone in the house washes their hands regularly to prevent further spread of the disease.

If you suspect or know it’s hfm, I’d recommend keeping your child home from school or creche for a few days, because that’s the polite thing to do and nobody likes the sick kid. Also let the school know so they can wash the toys in your kid’s classroom.

In terms of contagiousness, there are differing reports of when a child stops being contagious, but our boys’ (amazing) paediatric GP Dr Megan Page tells me that it’s a week after the first symptoms appear ie the fever.

So if S was at school he would’ve stayed home as soon as the rash appeared (even earlier if I’d been more on the ball and connected the dots) and would go back on Monday.

Can we get it?

Yes. Even though hfm usually affects kids under the age of 10, you can still get it as an adult. Some adults may show no symptoms at all but some have the pleasure of the mouth sores – and I’ve even heard of ear sores!

So it’s still important for you to wash your hands regularly – chances are you are on the receiving end of much snot and stool on a daily basis so it’s highly likely you’ll get it if you’re not careful. Even if you don’t show symptoms it’s still possible for you to pass it on.

Of course, if your kid has a fever or a rash which worries you, head to your paed just to be safe and check it out.

As for us, I’m pretty sure the sores will disappear tomorrow or the next day, and thankfully they are not blistering. S will survive and J may or may not get it again. Maybe they’ll both be healthy…until the next bout of whatever hits our household.

Because that’s #momlife.

Featured image: by Alex Pasarelu on Unsplash

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