Natural Support for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
At 4.5 years old, my son came down with Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. For anyone who has ever experienced it first hand or had a child contract it, this is not a light thing. From the CDC:
Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old. However, it can sometimes occur in adults. Symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever, blister-like sores in the mouth (herpangina), and a skin rash.Hand, foot, and mouth disease is caused by viruses that belong to the Enterovirus genus (group). This group of viruses includes polioviruses, coxsackieviruses, echoviruses, and enteroviruses.Coxsackievirus A16 is the most common cause of hand, foot, and mouth disease in the United States, but other coxsackieviruses have been associated with the illness.Enterovirus 71 has also been associated with hand, foot, and mouth disease and outbreaks of this disease.Hand, foot, and mouth disease is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease (also called hoof-and-mouth disease), a disease of cattle, sheep, and swine. However, the two diseases are caused by different viruses and are not related. Humans do not get the animal disease, and animals do not get the human disease.
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The symptoms of Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease are dreadful. They start out with a low fever, and generally ill feeling along with loss of appetite. Next comes the tiny fluid filled blisters on the hands, feet, and inside mouth, which can quickly spread. The blisters are painful and itchy, especially in the mouth. I noticed my son itching the tops of his feet one night, then over the next few days he seemed cranky, didn't eat much, and slightly warm although his aural temperature never went above 98. Then one night when he seemed particularly fussy, wouldn't eat dinner and complained about sore mouth I looked at his feet and hands on a hunch. Sure enough, classic spots, as well as inside his mouth.
Normally, this disease takes 1-2 weeks to clear up, and conventional medicine only recommends NSAIDs for pain relief and fever reduction (see why I don't reduce a fever, here). Kids can't go back to school until the last blister has scabbed over.
The night that the blisters showed up was pretty rough. I put the boy down to bed, which took a lot longer than usual. He still self soothed back then by sucking on his fingers, which were now extremely painful with blisters on both his fingers and in his mouth. He finally fell asleep and I ran to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for the next few days - natural popsicles, organic ice cream, organic juice. Lots of liquids and soft foods. I also grabbed a few homeopathic remedies to try.
To detour for a moment...at that time I was taking the Homeopathy course for my degree. For those who know me well, you know that with my scientific background, I am extremely skeptical about the whole premise of homeopathy. Diluting and shaking something down so much that there is no trace left of the original base? In theory, it sounds like hogwash. But I can't refute that it works. Most of you have probably taken or used a homeopathic remedy and not even realized it. Hylands Teething Tablets for babies are homeopathic as is Arnica cream for muscle pain. Homeopathy is based on the principle that Like Cures Like. In other words, if a person ingests, for example, the plant Belladonna, they will experience symptoms of dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, tachycardia, loss of balance, staggering, headache, rash, flushing, severely dry mouth and throat, slurred speech, urinary retention, constipation, confusion, hallucinations, delirium, and convulsions. Therefore, if someone experiences any of these symptoms for other reasons, they should be able to find relief with homeopathic Belladonna. Homeopathic remedies are listed by name with a number and X or C after it. This indicates the number of times it was diluted. The bigger the number, the greater the dilution, and the more potent is it said to be. X is 1/2 the dilution of C.
I had recently read about Arnica and Rhus toxicodendron. Arnica is well known for pain, but it also is indicated for itching and burning skin, eruption of small pimples, and soreness of gums (as well as a whole host of other indications). Rhus toxicodendron (or poison ivy) is indicated for blisters on the skin (and lots of other things). I purchased both. My grocery store carries the Boiron brand of homeopathics.
Another great thing about homeopathy is how cheap it is!
Natural Support for Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
My son woke up at 1 am screaming in pain. I crushed up and dissolved 2 tablets of Arnica 30C in about 15 drops of water and gave it to him. Normally you should try and dissolve the tablets under the tongue, but that wasn't going to happen at that age and with all those mouth sores. Within 10 minutes he was back to his happy self. The transformation was remarkable. 2 hours later he woke again, screaming in pain. Again I gave him 2 more Arnica 30C tablets, crushed and dissolved in a tiny amount of water. Again, within 10 minutes he was happy and back to sleep. At 5 am he woke again crying, but while I was in the kitchen making up another dose of Arnica, he fell back asleep and slept straight until 9 am when he woke as his normal happy self. He still had his existing spots on his hands, feet, and mouth, but nothing new, and the existing spots were already looking less angry. He had a particularly nasty one in his mouth that bothered him to eat, so for the next 2 days he stuck with soft foods and drinks. What kid is going to turn down meals of (organic) ice cream and popsicles?
I continued Arnica 30C for 3 more times that day. The next day I switched to Rhus tox 30C for 3 times. In addition to the homeopathics, I gave him our usual immune boosting treatment 3 times a day:
Natural Immune Boosters for Kids
I mixed everything up in a little medicine cup and give it to him in a syringe. The above list links to brands we used at the time, but there are many other great brands out there that we've also had success with. We pretty much do the above combination anytime he started showing symptoms of any illness or even when he'd been exposed to something. It was our go-to and served us well to avoid or shorten all illnesses in the childhood years. We have similar components for our adult version as well. When everyone else around us is sick, we are able to avoid it. (There is one other thing we use for the really nasty adult bugs.)
After 2 just days, his spots were gone and he was completely back to normal. I stopped the homeopathy at that point but continued his immune boosting treatment, in the mornings only, for the next 5 days. Since the spots coincided with a weekend, he was able to go back to school right away and didn't miss a single day!
I'm still amazed at how effective the Arnica 30C was in relieving his pain. It was quite remarkable.