Hand, foot and mouth disease.

It’s sounds like something farm animals might get, but if you’re the parent of young children it’s a disease that’s a little closer to home.

 hand, foot & mouth

I’ve been aware of hand, foot and mouth ever since our oldest was at nursery. Notices would appear on the door of the affected unit informing unwitting parents of the latest outbreak of chicken pox/head lice/hand, foot and mouth. But since neither of our older two ever caught it, I really didn’t know what it meant.

Unfortunately, we haven’t been so lucky third time around, and for the first time it’s my child who’s the subject of the fabled white door notice. It all started with a high temperature, which quickly turned into a rash, which quickly turned into itchy red spots.

If you’re reading this because you suspect your little one has hand, foot and mouth disease, or you want to be in the know in case they ever do, here’s everything you need to know about hand, foot and mouth disease from a mum who’s been there, done it and got the t-shirt.

The truth about hand, foot & mouth disease

What exactly IS it?

Here’s what the NHS has to say:

“Hand, foot and mouth disease is a common infection that causes mouth ulcers and spots on the hands and feet. It’s most common in young children – particularly those under 10 – but can affect older children and adults as well. Hand, foot and mouth disease can be unpleasant, but it will usually clear up by itself within 7 to 10 days. You can normally look after yourself or your child at home.”

And here’s what I have to say:

“Hand food and mouth disease is the nastiest infection I’ve come across since becoming a mum. Unpleasant is putting it mildly: think ulcers with pussy centres in and around their mouth and nose, an itchy rash all over their body that they scratch until they draw blood and their beautiful baby skin peppered with blisters. Meanwhile they won’t sleep unless it’s in your bed, they grizzle all day and there’s precious little you can do about it.”

 hand, foot & mouth

So how do you know if your child has it?

When I first took the baby to the pharmacy (it was the weekend) I was told she had measles, but given she’s had the MMR jab I knew this was highly unlikely. Her symptoms developed quite quickly, and it was soon clear she was in fact suffering from hand, foot and mouth.

Here’s what to look out for:

  • Sore throat (admittedly this is a bit hard to tell in a baby)
  • High temperature
  • Not wanting to eat
  • Rash
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Red spots on the hands and feet which develop into blisters
  • Itchiness

hand, foot & mouth

What can you do about it?

Because hand, foot and mouth disease is viral antibiotics won’t help – you’ve got to let it run its course. There’s lots you can do to help make them more comfy though, including:

  • Paracetamol for children to keep their temperature down
  • Piriton allergy relief syrup (I bought it over the counter) to help relieve the itching
  • Chamomile lotion, again to help relieve the itching
  • Make sure their nails are short so they’re less likely to draw blood when they scratch

Oh, and don’t forget to tell nursery so they can warn other parents via the dreaded white door notice.

Thankfully, a week on, we’re coming out the other end and the baby is (almost) back to her old self. Have you had to deal with hand, foot and mouth disease before? Do you have any top tips? I’d love to know what they are!

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