Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Hand, Foot and O-M-G Disease!

There are certain illnesses you never hear anything about until you have children. Some are not so bad. Others? Absolutely frightening! Recovering Germophobe that I am, Hand Foot & Mouth Disease was one of them. Sores? Blisters? (cue the Psycho shower scene music)

With it's undetermined incubation period being approximately 3-6 days, this virus is highly contagious and often lies dormant for many days without any symptoms at all. The perfect recipe for causing a down right pandemic (at least in my germophobic eyes).

Well, this week my two boys met their match. Not much can knock the wind out of their sails, but this sure did. They suffered with high fevers, massive headaches, extremely sore throats, tummy aches, intense itching and burning of feet and palms and of course those lovely red sores on their feet, hands and bottom.

Side Note: NEVER Google this virus and look at the images tab, just DON'T.

Now, I like to think that when I was in my twenties I was mature and compassionate. Not like the cruel twenty something pharmacist I encountered at my local drug store who told my son he should stop crying because; "crying isn't allowed in here." Knowing full-well what he was battling, she still turned to her colleague and said (openly) "I just hate the sound of a crying baby." I can only hope that one day when she is knee deep in Calamine lotion and hauling two screaming kids to the store because she ran out of supplies mid day, that someone will be kind enough to just show her where the darn Elderberry is. Either that, or she be blessed with the fertility of  Michelle Duggar so that she can understand that crying is not a nuisance, it's communication. (couldn't help myself)

On that note, with so many of the home remedies swirling around the internet I decided to add one more. I'm sharing what did work for us during our time of need fighting the effects of this ugly virus who takes no prisoners. Since there is a good chance this is being read by some poor mother desperate to relieve her child at 3am, I'm going to get right to it.

Elderberry Syrup:

Since this is in fact a virus, the more you can do to strengthen the immune system the faster it will move through. I've always kept this on hand so it was easy to break out at the onset of symptoms.

In an effort to support their immune system I also diffused the following essential oils recipe:

2 drops Rosemary
2 drops Clove
2 drops Eucalyptus
2 drops Cinnamon
2 drops Wild Orange

Topically I would apply the "Anti-Viral Blend" throughout the day, it consists of the following oils:

15 drops of Oregano
12 drops of Melaleuca
12 drops of Lemon
10 drops of Peppermint

Again, the stronger the immune system, the faster this virus can go on about its business.

Unfortunately once the itching starts, there isn't much you can do. Buckle in it's going to be a loooooong night. Few things are tougher than watching your child, or any child for that matter, suffer. This recipe for a homemade oatmeal bath is helps soothe some of the itching / burning for a little while. I would use this on my boys throughout the day, and once more just before bed to give them a better chance at falling into a deep sleep. It's pretty tough to fall asleep when you feel like your hands and feet are on fire.

Homemade Oatmeal Bath Recipe

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp of Baking Soda
2 Tbsp of Old Fashioned Oatmeal 
(blended down to powder form, you can use either your blender, food processor or coffee grinder)
2-3 drops Lavender Oil
2-3 drops Frankincense Oil

I would mix this together as a paste and massage on the itchy areas, then mix in the bath water and let them sit submerged in the water for about fifteen minutes.

This would provide comfort for a short period of time, usually long enough for them to take a nap or fall asleep at night.

Cold Compress:
When all else fails and itching is at it's peak, the only relief at times would come with an old fashioned cold compress. We keep a few "Boo Boo Buddies" in the freezer at all times, so it was easy to give to them as needed. Plus it helps that they can hold it themselves and use Elmo to make their boo boo better. Not at night though, in the middle of the night Elmo may fly across the room in a fit of itchy rage, you've been warned.

Popsicles can also help with the sore throat during this time. My boys didn't experience the difficulty swallowing and never lost their appetite (they rarely do), but some homemade smoothie popsicles are great for an irritated throat. It's important to keep them hydrated throughout all of this, appetite loss is common, but hydration is key to staying healthy and fighting this off.

Once the red spots make their long awaited appearance, its time for damage control. Each child experiences this virus differently. Some are riddled with blisters all over hands, feet, mouth and buttocks. Others may only have slight red spots on their feet and hands. To speed the healing of these uncomfortable spots, I used Purify Oil. My boys never developed blisters, just red patches. I'm not sure if it's because I applied this oil immediately, or if that's just how they experienced this virus. They did get some rash-like bumps on their buttocks, coincidentally the only area I wasn't treating with Purify Oil. Once I applied the bumps were flat in 24 hours, and gone in 48 hours.

Occasionally, for night time relief we would have to use a dosage of Children's Benadryl and Motrin recommended by our pediatrician. I'm all for taking the natural route as much as possible, although I do respect the opinion of my pediatrician. In order for them to get a good amount of rest to fight the HFMD battle the next day, these remedies helped us.

I'm lucky to be a part of such a wonderful community at Sunflower Creative Arts, support was key in knowing we weren't alone in our struggle. If you know anyone who is battling this virus, support comes in many different ways. You can offer to drop off some food at their front door, pick up some supplies while your at the grocery store or even some words of encouragement in their time of restless need. 

Of course the best prevention is caution, if you've read my post on "Germ Sharing" then you already know how I feel about this situation. With such a varied incubation period, Hand Foot & Mouth Disease can go undetected for up to 6 days without any symptoms. It can be contagious for up to 6 days beyond the onset of any symptoms. The bacteria itself can only live on a surface for about 24-48 hours, but can remain in saliva and bodily fluids for 3-6 weeks. If you hear of anyone being exposed to this virus it's best to keep away from other children. As I said before not all children experience this virus the same way, and some can still be carriers without any symptoms at all. Better to err on the side of caution and stay away from very public places such as; parks, schools, parties, etc..

Hope this helps any moms in need, it sure worked for us!

But remember, the best medicine when battling Hand Foot and Mouth disease is Love. If there is a positive spin on this experience, it's all the cuddles and down time we had together. I thoroughly enjoyed being couch potatoes and snuggling all day.

Have you ever dealt with HFMD before? If so, what worked for you?

Essentially Yours,


1 comment :

  1. At the end you mention how "the bacteria itself can only live on a surface..." You may want to edit that as it's a virus. I know you wouldn't want someone to read this and wonder why they weren't prescribed an antibiotic because of a typo. :) Otherwise, a helpful poat.