If you’ve never heard of hand, foot, and mouth disease, it may be because you’ve never had a small child – or with your own kids, you just got exceptionally lucky. This condition usually strikes children of younger ages and is more common in the summer and fall months, however, can also hit during other times of the year depending on your location.
The virus actively lives inside feces, so it’s a common occurrence among those who are potty training and still in diapers. However, older children can get it too and can be contagious for many weeks even after their symptoms reside.
This can make it a hard situation to control. Fortunately, the good news is that this condition is not terribly serious or dangerous. But it can be a nagging one to deal with especially for a young child. As any parent who’s had a sick child before knows, it’s not a pleasant time.
Let’s go over some of the key signs and symptoms that your child may be suffering from and then present some home remedies you can use to help them get past it.
Signs And Symptoms
What are the signs and symptoms of this disease? The condition typically lasts for about 10 days in someone who is healthy and well and strong enough to fight it off. So you can expect it to be about the same duration as a cold – possibly a bit longer.Usually, the incubation period for this condition is three to six days, so the person could actually be contagious during this state, which is why it’s a hard condition to control.
The initial signs and symptoms your child will typically experience when this comes on includes a general sense of feeling tired and fatigued, a lowered appetite level, a sore throat, as well as a fever.
Normally, it’s after a few days that the classic sores and signs of hand, foot, and mouth begin to appear. Up until this point, it’s easy to simply mistake this for a common cold or flu.
When the sores do begin to form, what you’ll see is small red spots that are showing up on the palms of the hands as well as the soles of the feet. This may be the extent to which your child experiences hand, foot and mouth disease, or they may go on to see additional sores develop around their buttocks, elbows, and knees. Their genital region may also start to show signs and symptoms, so that’s something to pay attention to as well. If they get sores there, medical treatment may be warranted as this can cause them to become much more uncomfortable.
In some more severe cases, the sores may start to blister and eventually break open, which will then cause fluid to leak out. This fluid will contain the virus, so at this point, it’s very essential they are taking the time to wash their hands thoroughly as well as cleanse anything else in the house that they may have come into contact with. It contains the virus so care must be shown to ensure it doesn’t spread further.
Now that you have a better understanding of what this condition is, let’s talk about treatments.
Frozen Coconut Water
This one is super simple to make at home and one that kids will actually enjoy having! Frozen coconut ice pops are a great standby when hand, foot and mouth disease strikes. Because it’ll help keep your child well hydrated, which is essential if they’re going to get past it1.
Dehydration is often a problem for those who are suffering because taking down fluids with the sores can be painful. But if they can suck on ice pops, the coolness of the pop will help to numb the area, making it easier to get the liquid in and on top of that, coconut water is also great for hydration purposes.
It contains powerful electrolytes they may need and also provides immune-boosting properties2 as well. This can come in handy for providing the strength to the body to get past the condition.
Simply pour some coconut water into ice cube trays and then place a toothpick in the tray. Or alternatively, you can use a popsicle mold instead.
Bring On The Soups
While taking down liquids is hard, taking down whole foods can be even more challenging. In a time like this, soups should become your best friend. Both hot and cold can be used to help calm the little one’s sores and provide the vital nutrition they need to keep their immune system strong and fighting off the virus.
You will want to watch however that you don’t serve any soups that are on the acidic side as these will without a doubt lead to more pain and could also trigger irritation.
Cold soups may be especially favorable during the summer months when they don’t feel like having a hot meal and their appetite is lower.
Himalayan Salt Mouth Wash
Another technique to consider if you want to help ease the pain in their mouth and speed up the healing process is combining Himalayan salt and water. This salt will help to balance the pH levels in the body, which then helps support optimal healing while also boosting the immune response.
It is important that you do get them to just swish around with the liquid rather than swallowing it as the sodium content will be quite high. But as long as your child is old enough to do that, this can be a very beneficial treatment.
If you want a topical treatment to help ease the discomfort associated with the sores of hand, foot, and mouth disease, coconut oil may be your go-to. While you can always purchase numbing lotions from the drugstore, coconut oil provides some excellent benefits. You might just find it helps out much more than the purchased lotions do.
Coconut oil contains both antimicrobials as well as antiviral compounds, so it’ll not only help moisturize the sores, making them less painful but also aid in speeding the healing process as well3.
Simply rub it directly onto the sores and then massage it in as best as possible.
A tepid bath can be a great plan for any sort of skin ailment, this included. Adding some Epsom salts takes that one step further as they may help provide additional pain relief and healing4.
You’ll want to run lukewarm to warm water and then add the bath salts. Note that when suffering from hand, foot, and mouth disease, you should avoid hot water at all costs. Whether baths or showers, this will only dry out the skin and cause further aggravation to occur.
Bone broth has been known to be a vital healing aid for anyone who’s suffering from health-related conditions and is a simple way to boost overall health as well5.
This condition is no different. Bone broth contains collagen to support healthy skin so it can help give your skin a boost right when it needs it.
Bone broth will also help to strengthen the immune response, warding off hand, foot, and mouth disease faster as well.
Tea Tree Oil
Another topical solution you might want to try out if your child is suffering from hand, foot and mouth disease is tea tree oil. This form of oil has been widely used to treat a variety of different issues and does appear to be especially beneficial for issues of the skin.
It also provides antiviral, antiseptic, and antifungal properties to the body6 so it’s perfect for someone who’s dealing with this condition. Best of all, it’s very gentle on the skin – moisturizing in fact, so is perfect for when the skin isn’t feeling at its best.
To use tea tree oil, you’ll simply want to add a few drops to gentle hand soap or lotion and then rub this into the skin. Massage it in a little to help improve blood circulation and really get that tea tree oil activated.
Tea tree oil will be best used by older teens who are suffering from hand, foot and mouth disease. This should not be used by babies or young toddlers.
Lemon Essential Oil
Another oil that you’ll want to consider adding to your treatment protocol for this condition is a lemon essential oil. Lemon is a fantastic health-boosting substance and should be taken every day with a glass of water to promote all-around good health7. While it may seem acidic by nature, it actually becomes very alkaline in the body after you use it. So it’s a great one to get into your daily life.
The lemon essential oil will help treat hand, foot, and mouth disease by strengthening the immune response and helping to nourish the skin that’s infected.
Just like with tea tree oil, you’ll simply add a few drops of this to your lotion as needed. This one is safe to use for babies and toddlers, so it’s a good alternative.
Moving on to yet another oil which is called lavender oil. This one works indirectly to help manage hand, foot and mouth disease by ensuring a better night’s sleep. One thing you can be certain of is that if your child has this condition, sleep will not come as easily to them as it normally does.
If your child is a good sleeper, count yourself lucky because they may not sleep too poorly. But if you already have a toddler who’s up multiple times during the night, expect that to start to get worse if they contract this condition.
Luckily lavender oil has been shown to help treat insomnia and by simply diffusing it into the room, you may find your child drift off to sleep faster than without it.
If you’re a parent dealing with sleepless nights due to a sick child, it’s definitely worth a try.
By helping them get a better night’s sleep, this will also boost their immune system, thus helping to fend off the condition faster.
Another way to indirectly help ensure that your child starts feeling better as soon as possible is to have them take a probiotic. Probiotics, while not specifically designed for hand, foot and mouth disease, are designed to help strengthen the immune system from the inside out8. Maintaining a healthy gut is vital to your overall well-being and when your gut isn’t healthy, you’ll never feel at your best.
Since most children are not eating probiotic-rich foods on a regular basis (unless they are a heavy consumer of yogurt, but even then, the flavored yogurt they likely eat will not contain any probiotics), they need a supplement.
A supplement will quickly help get their numbers back up to where they need to be. So this is a great solution for anyone who is dealing with hand, foot and mouth disease.
Give your child a probiotic supplement at the first sign they’re suffering. Or better yet, have them take one on a regular basis so they start out with a stronger immune system.
If you do this, you may just help them prevent the problem entirely in the first place. Do keep this in mind, if they ever should use an antibiotic for an illness, they will need to rebuild their gut bacteria up from square one. Because the antibiotic will wipe out all the healthy good bacteria in their system.
With a strong probiotic such as P3-OM however, it won’t take long at all to get the gut bacteria back up to optimal standing.
Finally, one last method that you may use to help your child find fast relief if they’re suffering and especially uncomfortable is a simple cool compress. Sometimes placing a cool cloth on any area that is feeling warm or even burning due to the sores can provide some temporary relief and help them get through it.
This won’t be a permanent solution as when the compress is removed and time has elapsed once again, they may find they need to re-use it to help control the discomfort that is occurring.
But in the stages where the sores are present before they have started healing, a cool compress can be a lifesaver while your child relaxes and gets well.
So there you have some of the most helpful natural home remedies and treatments you should consider giving your child if he or she is suffering from hand, foot and mouth disease. It is definitely a trying condition because it can be quite uncomfortable but the good news is that it will pass and usually is not anything too dangerous to worry about.
If the child does suffer from a fever, which can be common during the initial stages of the condition, do consider giving them some Tylenol to help bring that down if it gets too high. Consult with your pharmacy for more information on exactly when to provide Tylenol and how much to give as the situation will be different for various ages.
With proper care and treatment, you can help them better control their discomfort and get through hand, foot and mouth disease.
- Ismail, I., R. Singh, and R. G. Sirisinghe. “Rehydration with sodium-enriched coconut water after exercise-induced dehydration.” Southeast Asian journal of tropical medicine and public health 38.4 (2007): 769.
- DebMandal, Manisha, and Shyamapada Mandal. “Coconut (Cocos nucifera L.: Arecaceae): in health promotion and disease prevention.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine 4.3 (2011): 241-247.
- Carandang, E. V. “Health benefits of virgin coconut oil.” INDIAN COCONUT JOURNAL-COCHIN- 38.9 (2008): 8.
- Polefka, T. G., R. J. Bianchini, and S. Shapiro. “Interaction of mineral salts with the skin: a literature survey.” International journal of cosmetic science 34.5 (2012): 416-423.
- Siebecker, Allison. Traditional bone broth in modern health and disease. Diss. NCNM, 2004.
- Hammer, KA 1., C. F. Carson, and T. V. Riley. “Antifungal activity of the components of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil.” Journal of applied microbiology 95.4 (2003): 853-860.
- Ali, Babar, et al. “Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review.” Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine 5.8 (2015): 601-611.
- Perdigon, G., et al. “Immune system stimulation by probiotics.” Journal of dairy science 78.7 (1995): 1597-1606.