Hand, Foot, and Mouth: How We are Surviving It

Last week each of my girls had a fever.  For our Bean in the middle, her fever jumped pretty high, and I almost called the doctor for it.  She didn’t have any other symptoms, although she didn’t want to eat much.

A few days later her sister had a fever that lasted only a day, as well.  Hers wasn’t as high, but she did complain of a sore throat.  She, too, didn’t eat much that day or the next.

I hadn’t considered either of these episodes serious.  My kids tend not to get sick very often, and if they do, it’s for a very short period of time.  I assumed my middle child picked up a virus either on the playground, at the store, or at the library.  It’s easy to do.

Shortly after my oldest girl got sick I started to feel a bit under the weather.  I have been working on sleep training Baby Brother, and that has really diminished my hours of quality sleep at night (in hopes to eventually get more).  I assumed I was just getting tired from all of that.  Saturday afternoon my husband’s company had a huge picnic, and our little family spent all day playing, eating, walking, dancing, and bouncing.  It was a great time, but it definitely wore us all out.  We brought the stroller, and I ended up pushing Little Guy in it for a while because it was almost too hot to wear him.  I’ll start my illness progression right after that.

Sunday:  I woke up with a very sore throat, though I chalked it up to tiredness and the weeding I had done earlier in the weekend.  My palms were sore, and I thought it was because I had been pushing the stroller.  We didn’t think twice about piling into our van and heading to church.  By the time we got back and started lunch prep I noticed small red dots on my palms.  They itched quite a bit, and I considered they might be from stinging nettle that I may have touched accidentally.  Then I saw that Baby Brother had a similar spot on his chin, and he hadn’t been feeling himself for most of the morning.

A quick internet search led me to the conclusion that he and I both had Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease.

[What is Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease?  It is commonly a childhood illness, affecting children five years old or younger.  It’s caused by one of two viruses:  Coxsackievirus A16 (most common) or Enterovirus 71.  The later has been linked to other much more serious diseases such as encephalitis, as well.  The disease is characterized by a fever (mild or severe, depending on the strain), following by a sore throat.  After the fever breaks, a rash appears, usually on the palms of the hands, bottoms of the feet, around the mouth, and in the diaper/groin area.  In children, this rash may itch a bit, but it doesn’t bother them as much as the lingering sore throat.  Throat blisters can last up to a week or more, and they can restrict appetite and food intact.  The disease is spread through bodily fluids (saliva, urine, feces, and open sores from the rash).  Because it is viral, there is no treatment for the disease, just symptom management.  Most adults do not contract the disease because they have already built up immunity to protect against it.]

By Sunday evening the spots on my hands became more visible, and more popped up.  My feet began to itch, and a few spots became visible there as well.  Baby Brother had only one spot on his chin and one on his thigh.  He had no fever but seemed irritable.

I searched the internet for any relief he and I could get that I didn’t have to leave the house for.  My husband had already left for work, and there was no way I was going to share this with the rest of town.

I made sure we both had plenty of fluids, and I fixed up two essential oils rollers:

The first roller, to be put directly on blisters, had 5 drops each of lavender, tea tree, and lemon essential oils.  The second roller, to be used on the bottoms of our feed, had 5 drops each of thieves and oregano.  I used olive oil to dilute in both of these.  I treated both Little Guy and I twice before bed.

This is how my rash looked before I settled in for a long night:

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It certainly didn’t look all that bad, but it itched  A LOT.  And it was pretty painful.  It wasn’t painful enough to make me wince, though I had read that from other people’s stories about the disease.  Instead, it was just painful enough to keep me from falling asleep.  So at 1:00 am when my husband strolled through the door from work, expecting the house to be asleep, I was in an oatmeal bath.

I put 2 tbsp rolled oats, 1 tsp iodized salt, and 1 tbsp coconut oil into a wash cloth and put a rubberband around it to make a sachet of sorts.  I threw this into a warm (not hot!) bath with about 5 drops of lavender essential oil.

The oatmeal bath provided some relief, though not as much as I’d hoped.  I tossed and turned until Baby Brother woke me around 5:00 am.  He nursed back to sleep (lucky guy), and I just started my day.

Monday:  I moved about slowly, washing my sheets and any towels or washcloths I had used.  I let my husband climb back into bed (with clean sheets) to get some more rest.  My rash became more defined, and it definitely hurt more than it itched.  I also began to feel spots forming on my thighs and my back.  My throat was too sore to each much of anything.  It’s been a chicken broth and tea kind of day.

I am continuing to use our two essential oil blends quite a bit.  I estimate I’m putting it on both of us just about every hour.  My rash looked like this today:

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Again, it doesn’t look as bad as it itches.  I am, however, hoping to avoid the opening of any of these spots.  The liquid that oozes from them is very contagious, and it sounds absolutely gross.

Little Guy woke up around his normal time, and he was a bit fussier than normal.  He had several more spots on his thighs, though the one on his chin remained by itself.  He doesn’t seem bothered by the rash, but he is having some pain eating his solids.  He’s nursing quite a bit more today.

I intend to give both Baby Brother and I an oatmeal bath this evening.  I’ll continue to update on our progress and how our symptom management plan is working.

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