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It was earlier in the year when my sister told me that her twin daughters had hand, foot and mouth that I became aware that this is actually a common childhood illness.
I remember thinking when she told me her daughters had this that I didn't even know humans could get it, I thought it was just something animals got. According to the baby centre website "Hand, foot and mouth disease is a mild illness caused by one of a group of coxsackie viruses. It gets its name from the little sores that develop on the hands and feet, and in the mouth. It’s common in children under 10, although adults can get a milder form of the virus (Knott 2011, NHS 2012, Vorvick 2012)". It is easily passed on from one person to another just like the common cold. It is very contagious and can be caught by an infected person coughing or sneezing near you, or from contact with faeces, saliva or fluid from the sores.
If your baby catches hand, foot and mouth disease they will be most contagious a few days before symptoms appear so it can be hard to prevent. Hygeine is key to prevention and spreading of the disease, make sure you wash yours and your baby's hands regularly.
Recently my daughter was becoming unsettled at night time. She would wake every few hours and only go back to sleep once she was given a quick cuddle. One evening however, she had gone to sleep as usual about8pm, but 11.30pm came and she woke up crying. I went upstairs to settle her, but as soon as I picked her up I knew something wasn't right. I could feel the heat coming off her and by this point she was now screaming, crying and could not be settled. I called my partner and as we undressed her we could see her skin was red, and I mean red, she looked sunburnt. We were starting to get really scared now. We took her temperature and it was above 39 degrees celsius. We gave her some calpol to try to bring her temperature down. We grabbed a few things, spare nappy, water and of course Ted (my daughters favourite stuffed toy) and we headed to our local accident and emergency department.
The nurse took her temperature and it had dropped to 38.8 degrees celsius. Her pulse was racing and she had a sore looking throat. She really was not happy with being poked and prodded. It didn't help that it was now the early hours of the morning, and she normally sleeps through the night so all my daughter wanted to do was sleep. She dozed off in our arms every opportunity she got.
We were even more concerned with my daughter being ill as she has a duplex kidney for which she has been on antibiotics to prevent infection since the day she was born. We saw her consultant only a few months ago who strongly advised us that if she ever became unwell, the first thing that should be checked is whether my daughter has a urinary tract infection, as this would make her very unwell indeed. You can read more about my daughters duplex kidney problems is some of my previous posts.
A urine sample was collected from her nappy, and thank god it came back clear. The doctor put it down to a viral infection and said that they would do her observations one more time and if they were fine we could go home, however my little princess wouldn't let them anywhere near her, she's quite strong for a little girl! The doctor advised she wasn't happy for her to go home the way she was as she was quite distressed, so we stayed till morning. My daughter slept on me all night, she didn't want to be away from us.
She woke about 7.30am and was like a completely different baby. She had improved so much and we were allowed home. We were given open access for 24 hours to the ward incase we needed it.
A few days later and my daughter handed me one of her toys and I noticed a blister on her hand, then another one in the palm of her hand, she also had some small red spots on her feet as well. I remembered when my sisters daughters had HFM so I googled it, as you do. I then phoned my doctor who advised that it was indeed hand, foot and mouth and that as it is a viral infection there are no antibiotics available.
This explains the high temperature my daughter had the night we took her to A&E and also her red throat as she had sores on her throat as well, she also had blisters on her nappy area. Plenty of water and calpol for a temperature is the advice for treating hand, foot and mouth. As it is very contagious it is important to keep her away from other children, and avoid playgroup etc.
It should take between 5 and 10 days to clear.
For more information on hand, foot and mouth you can visit the National Health Service websitehttp://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Hand-foot-and-mouth-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx