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Hand, Foot and Mouth disease

Infant and Children, Immune | April 10, 2019 | Author: Naturopath

Kids, Immune, infants

Hand, Foot and Mouth disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a mild viral disease which often affects children. The usual viral culprit is from a collection of enteroviruses called the coxsackie group, and particularly coxsackie virus A16. The illness can lasts from 7 – 10 days.

HFMD more often occurs in warmer weather, is easily spread from child to child and family members, and mainly affects children under the age of 10. This is why it is commonly found in child care centres. Most people would have been infected with the virus by the time they are adults.

This disease has no relationship with foot and mouth from live-stock.


Symptoms can start anywhere between 3 -5 days after contamination with infection.

  • Blisters – these are small lesions which occur on hands, feet, inside mouth and nappy area
  • High temperature
  • Sore throat
  • Lack of appetite
  • Tiredness
  • Feeling out -of- sorts

The virus can affect the spinal cord and brain causing seizures and confusion, but this is a rare occurrence.


The diagnoses for HFMD is made by the doctor and usually from symptoms noted. In some instances, a sample from the throat or faeces may be taken to confirm.


Treatment in based on symptom relief and HFMD will usually resolve itself within 7-10 days. As this is an infectious disease, the patient should be kept isolated until blisters have dried and are crusty.

  • Ice blocks and drinks to relief a sore mouth
  • Soft foods
  • Avoid citrus or acidic foods that might irritate
  • Oat baths to soothe skin
  • Lots of rest

The blister as they contain infectious material, let them resolve naturally. If the fever remains high,the patient has a severe headache or you are concerned, seek medical help immediately.

How is it spread?

HFMD is spread from contact with the fluid from blisters, from saliva, nasal or oral discharge, coughing and faeces. The blisters are infectious till they become crusty but infection from faeces can last for weeks.

How to prevent the spread of HFMD

Good hygiene practices are most important to help prevent the spread of any diseases including HFMD. This means thorough handwashing with soap – regularly but especially after nose wiping, toilet and nappy changes or if in contact with blisters.

  • Do not share eating and drinking utensils – such as cups and cutlery
  • Avoid sharing clothing, towels or bedding
  • Thorough washing of equipment, clothing and toys
  • Encourage children and family members to follow good hygiene practices - use a tissue for noses and coughs and dispose of them in garbage after use and wash hands

Supporting the immune system from viral attack

If your child is associating closely with other children and you would like to prevent HFMD and other viral infections as much as possible, there are things you can do.

Adequate rest

Not receiving enough sleep will leave a body susceptible to many infectious agents. Children need more sleep than adults. Toddlers require 11 -14 hours a day and pre-schoolers 10-13 hours a day. This is mainly taken at night but littlies will often benefit from an after-lunch nap/rest time and it is a good practice to set a bed time. Encouraging an afternoon rest time also gives children (and parents) time out to recoup.

Healthy diet

Under-nutrition impairs the immune system and suppresses immune functions which are essential protection for the body.

Include in the diet:

  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Protein rich food – meat, fish, chicken, beans, legumes, dairy and soy
  • Fermented foods to encourage good gut bacterial health – yoghurts, sushi, sauerkraut, miso, tempeh and kefir

Vitamins and Herbs 

Probiotics –. The action of probiotic bacteria offer protection against viral infection. They offer several immunomodulatory effects to help the body

Vitamin C – improves immunity

Zinc – demand is increased with infection

Echinacea – helps modulate the immune system. Echinacea may be take regularly to help prevent infection or at first sign of any infection

Elderberry – can help with mucus, fevers and inflammation

Points to remember

  • Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by a virus
  • There are no treatments to kill or prevent hand, foot and mouth disease
  • Antibiotics do not work against hand, foot and mouth disease
  • It is a mild infection that last between 7 -10 days
  • Keep children away from day-care/school until blisters have dried
  • Let blisters dry naturally
  • Practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of hand, foot and mouth disease  Australia’s best online discount chemist


How much sleep do we really need?

Human immune system during sleep

Fisher, Carole; 2009, MATERIA MEDICA OF WESTERN HERBS, Vitex Medica, New Zealand.

Henry, Osiecki; The Nutrient Bible 9th Edition, Bio Concepts, AG Publishing; QLD, Australia

Diet, immunity and functional foods.

Probiotics: effects on immunity

Probiotics and immune health

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