Raising babies comes with its fair share of ups and downs. We totally dig the cute side - first steps, laughs, the sweet way they say mama - but the downside can be a drag. Illnesses are tough for adults to deal with, but at least we know how to articulate our needs. When very young children get sick it can be an entirely different story, full of frustration and tears. We all know about chicken pox, but what about hand, foot and mouth disease? Just as contagious and every bit as uncomfortable, the lesser talked about skin bug can be a total nightmare to deal with, but catching it straight off the bat can help you to prepare. Here's what to look out for.
Hand, foot, and mouth has a pretty self-explanatory name as it affects all of these areas. Usually, symptoms first present themselves similarly to many childhood illnesses. A sore throat, a higher than usual temperature and a loss of appetite will signal that something isn't right. Within a few days, mouth ulcers will rear their ugly head and red spots will appear on the hands and feet. These will develop into liquid-filled blisters, with a grey center. In most cases, the rash stays on the outer extremities, unlike chicken pox which normally starts on the torso and works its way out.
Not only will children feel poorly and itchy, but as their ability to eat (especially in babies still taking a bottle) is disrupted, they can get incredibly grumpy. The disease also isn't a "you've-had-it-once-won't-get-it-again" deal. Anyone, including adults, can contract it multiple times. Although you are less likely to come down with the sickness again, it's still a possibility.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for HFAM, it has to naturally run its course and work its way out of the system. Things should settle back to normal after around 10 days. There are a few things you can do in the meantime to make everyone in the house a little more comfortable. According to the NHS, sufferers should keep their fluid intake up but avoid acidic drinks like fruit juice. Soft foods like soup are easier to swallow and kinder to the mouth ulcers, but keep these as plain as possible - spices will just agitate the blisters. Over the counter analgesics like paracetamol and ibuprofen can help to ease throat pain, but as always, check with your medical professional first.
It's also very important to note that this disease loves to spread, and pregnant women and the elderly should avoid coming into contact with carriers.