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It was nearing the weekend when my son Oorrav got back from school with a slight temperature running. In India, the months of August and September usually see a spurt in various viral infections and diseases due to the hot and humid weather accompanied by occasional rains! Dengue the mosquito borne disease also turns out to be a major concern during these times. So when the little one was feeling down with fever frankly there were quite a few concerns running across my head being his mom!

Keeping my fingers crossed I decided to observe him for a couple of days, administering his regular paracetamol. However, in the second day itself he developed a sore throat, refused to eat…and stayed put in bed refusing to get up! This was so unlike the happy and jolly 5 year old he is…Then came Day 3 when I noticed early in the morning, red blisters appearing around his lips, elbows, hands, knees and foot! OMG! Is it measles? They quite looked like measles! I decided not to do self-medication anymore and rushed him to his doctor!

“It’s not measles!” Said the doctor… “It’s a classic case of Hand, Foot and Mouth” Now what was that? I had never heard of such a thing before! The doctor examined inside his mouth and showed me the horrible blisters that had popped up inside the poor guy’s mouth…not just inside but outside too! Now that explained why he refused to eat. It’s very contagious! Keep him secluded.. Stop his school for 2 weeks and allow him to go only after I give a fit certificate. Said the doctor. If you have little children at home keep him away! “Oh God! I was thinking about my 11 month old baby girl Deveena! How could I possibly keep both the children apart!

The doctor advised rest, a bland semi liquid diet, paracetamol and a pain reliever Zyrtec for the throat infection. Paracetamol was to be administered every 4-6 hours even if the fever did not show up! Lotions and creams were given to bring relief to the rashes.

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Symptoms of Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in their order of appearance:

First 3 days:

1) Mood Swings

2) Weakness

3) Fever (99 -101 degrees F)

4) Sore Throat

5) Loss of Appetite

Post 3 days:

1) Painful reddish pink blisters inside the mouth and eruptions on the lip and mouth area. In some cases rashes are visible on the forehead as well

2) Red rashes on the elbows and hands

3) Red rashes on the knees and foot soles.

4) Boils and rashes on the buttocks.

Remember – Rashes start as red spots and turn into boil like blisters.

Here’s how my son’s hands looked:

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I asked the Doctor how my son came up with this weird disease and here are some of the common causes that he stated:

1) Hand, foot and mouth disease is usually contracted at school being extremely contagious.

2) It is a result of coxsackievirus A16 a part of Enteroviruses.

3) Occurs on contact of saliva, blister fluids, coughing and sneezing of an already infected person.

4) May occur on coming in direct contact of surfaces containing the virus- eg in public/ school toilets.

Did You Know?

Young children in age group 1 month – 10 years is in highest risk of contracting this disease.

Older people in contact with the infected person may see a low level occurrence of the disease in their bodies

Babies are most vulnerable.

Here’s how my baby’s foot looked:

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There is no immediate cure to the disease. Once contracted it will remain for 7-10 days before disappearing on its own. The medicines administered may only bring temporary relief.

There is no vaccine to prevent this disease.

Complete cure may take 4-5 weeks. Including disappearances of marks associated with the rashes and eruptions.

Home Remedies To Bring Relief:

I tried these home remedies and they worked:

1) If food doesn’t work eat ice creams- preferably milk based ones.

2) Drink cold drinks

3) Avoid citrus fruits – They may cause burns

4) Go on a bland diet- boiled and mashed potatoes, steamed veggies etc.- Avoid spicy food. They will make the blisters in the mouth all the more painful.

5) Swish mouth with luke warm water.

Medication:

There is no fixed medication to cure hand, foot and mouth disease. Medicines may only bring relief in the initial stages

For Fever/ Pain Relief: Paracetamol – My doctor in India gave Sumol. Dosage depending on your child’s age as directed by the doctor.

For Allergy Relief: Anti Allergen – My doctor gave Zyrtec Syrup.

For Drying Up The Rashes: Dermocalm Lotion.

For Boil like Rashes with fluid oozing out: T-Bact Cream.

Contagious? Yes!

Remember, hand foot and mouth disease is very contagious. Even though I kept my son away from school till he was completely cured, my 11 month old baby daughter contracted the disease.

The disease comes out full blown in babies. My daughter developed sores that were like boils all over her back side and bumps with fluids oozing out. Poor She could not even sit! The disease took more than 3 weeks to disappear from the body.

Babies must be put on complete fluid diet. Paracetamol may be administered post doctor consultation.

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Preventive Measures

1) Always ensure that your kids wash their hands and feet thoroughly with soap once they return from the park/ school / any outing.

2) Teach children to avoid biting nails/ putting hands in the mouth.

3) Always disinfect toys and pacifiers your kids play regularly with.

4) Keep infected children away from others to prevent spread of the disease.

5) Keep your toilet clean with disinfectants.

On The Road To Recovery:

Here’s what you can expect when the disease begins to subside after 7-10 days. I observed that the reaction was same for both of my infected kids.

1) The appetite will improve and get back to normal.

2) Fever will vanish.

3) The rashes and boils will dry up and look like black spots initially and will later lead to the affected skin area drying up and falling off with the new skin developing in its place.

4) Take your child to the doctor and get an all clear certificate from him before you send him/ her back to school again!

Hope this was helpful in opening your eyes to this disgusting disease whose prevention, medical science is yet to discover! Don’t forget to write to me for any queries.

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