Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD)
HFMD is a viral infection that causes sores in or on the mouth and on the hands, feet, and sometimes the buttocks and legs. The sores may be painful. It is contagious the first week of infection and usually doesn't last more than a week or so. Children from 6 months to 6 years old are more susceptible to this infection, whilst adults are less susceptible.
It is caused by an Entrovirus called Coxsackie Virus A16. The virus spreads easily through coughing and sneezing. It can also spread through infected stool, such as when parents change a diaper or when a young child gets stool on his or her hands and then touches objects that other children put in their mouths. Incubation period is usually 3 – 6 days.
Typical symptoms are:
- Mouth sores
- Maculopapular rash/scattered vesicular rash on palms and soles
- Vague feeling of unwell/lethargy
- Rash all over the body. Or no rash at all in some, but still contagious via touching the contaminated surface, or through saliva
Course of illness include fever, poor appetite and sore throat for 1 – 2 days, sores in the mouth, palms/soles, buttocks, legs, arms in the following days.
Prevention is frequent hand washing with soap. Good hygiene for diaper disposal is highly recommended to prevent the spread of the virus.
The Orthodox Approach
There is no specific treatment for hand, foot, and mouth disease. However, some things can be done to relieve symptoms, such as giving Ibuprofen to patients over 3 months old to reduce fever. (Aspirin will not be given to children).
Allow plenty of rest and keep hydrated. For young children, strengthen the immune system by giving Vitamin D3 1000IU per day, multivitamins, probiotics for children. For adults, Echinacea, Sambucus and Astragulus would be advised. Epsom salt bath containing Magnesium Sulfate has anti-bacterial and drawing out properties to help sooth the irritation. Coconut oil can also be applied topically to sooth irritated skin. If rash/blisters break open, keep the area dry to prevent infections.
Homeopathic remedy can be taken to treat HFMD based on individual profile and very often Arnica 30C could be taken at the first instance if the rash came on suddenly and painful joints.