10 things I learned from looking after a kid with Hand, Foot and Mouth

On Sunday, we had a party for the hubs’ birthday. Our little guy was a little warm and grumpy, but we thought maybe he’d just eaten too much cake.

Then on Monday, he woke up with a slight fever and spots around his mouth and legs. Uh-oh.

We bundled him up still in his pajamas and took him to the doctor. As we undressed him in the exam room, there were suddenly more spots, popping up all across his stomach and behind his knees.

The doctor arrived and we showed her the spots. At first she wondered aloud if it was impetigo. But looking at the blisters emerging on his feet, and turning over his sweet little hands she said what we’d been wondering about: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD). Quite common in children under five, there’s not much to be done for this nasty little virus except rest, plenty of fluids, and try to stop the itch as those spots dry up. We got a prescription for cream to try to prevent secondary infections and took him home.

For the next three days, I split my time between cuddling a sad little boy, trying to encourage him to drink as much as possible through his blistered mouth, and madly trying to disinfect everything he touched. I even quarantined the dogs for fear they might catch it (don’t worry – it can’t be passed to or from pets!).

And we waited.

We waited to see if our older child would show the same signs (not so far). I waited to see if the hubs would develop symptoms of the virus that is, apparently, extra painful for adults. And the hubs waited to see if I’d get sick, because as every family knows, it’s only a crisis if mama falls ill.

Here’s what we learned:

1) Hydro-cortisone creams and Anti-histamines helped to reduce itching.  Calamine lotion didn’t seem to work.

2) Very long socks placed over their hands to prevent them scratching helps. Eventually, they figure out how to take them off, but it takes a little while and helps the absent-minded scratching.

3) Mushy cereal and yogurt are good for sore mouths. Popsicles might help but can also be too cold.

4) Luke warm baths can help, especially if there are fun toys to play with. Don’t add bubbles because it just makes them itchier.

5) Most juice is too acidic for sore mouths but watered-down pomegranate or cranberry was mild enough to be tolerated and gave enough taste to encourage drinking.

6) HFMD is spread through direct contact, so I cleaned everything he might have touched – from toys to tables, floors to furniture – with a 10% bleach solution. For good measure I also sprayed everything I could think of with disinfectant. From this I learned that a) this makes everything slightly sticky and requires re-washing and b) the scents on disinfectants are clearly named by individuals who have never encountered summer berries, crisp apples or linen fresh sheets.

7) Looking at rashes makes you feel itchy. Using hand soap 4001 times a day makes you itchy. Thinking about being itchy makes you feel itchy.

8) Keeping a healthy child away from a sick one is like trying to keep ducks from water.

9) Peppa Pig and Max & Ruby are basically the same show, but I’ll take anything so long as it’s not Calliou.

10) Kids are incredibly, remarkably, resilient: the little guy is already back to trundling around in his footed sleepers, getting into the Tupperware drawer, and attempting to feed the dogs lightly chewed cereal.

If your child has HFMD or you suspect it, the WHO has a good info sheet  and the Centres for Disease Control have a great podcast. 

You Baby Me Mummy



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  1. Oh yikes, no fun at all. But those are great lessons to share heh. I’m with you on looking at rashes makes you feel itchy, cause I feel itchy just reading this post!

  2. Aw bless you it sounds absolutely dreadful and I agree there is nothing worse than a baby’s whimper. Hope everything is brighter this week. Thanks for linking to #thelist x

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