I had booked my little girl in for a professional photograph session, second child means we don’t have a lot of photos of her alone, and she woke up in the morning with a few red dots around her mouth. She’s teething and sucking a dummy so I didn’t think much of the dots until we got to the photographer.
The photographer asked me to take her dummy out her mouth and when I did I saw that there were a few more dots around her mouth. The photographer took a closer look and suggested it could be Hand Foot and Mouth (HFAM) she also told me she knew it was circulating Sydney at the moment 😦
We rescheduled the appointment and off I went to the pharmacy for a second take on the situation. In the last year, everytime I’ve taken the kids to doctors I’ve had the same stock standard response “give it 24 hours” so I thought I’ll give it the mandatory 24 hours and keep her and her brother in quarantine.
The pharmacist took one look and said ‘whoever told you it was HFAM was an idiot, it’s just a fungus which is extremely common in small kids with dummies’. The pharmacist gave us some anti-fungal and off we went.
The dots didn’t progress, haven’t progressed but next morning she had some faint red dots on her hands. Panic began to set it. Took her temperature, because that’s what the Google machine indicated I should do and there was no temp.
We set off to a secluded field so her brother could ride his bike without us risking infecting anyone if she wasn’t well. That afternoon her little finger had a blister on it so I made an urgent doctors appointment.
Doctor looked in her throat and confirmed it was Hand, Foot and Mouth. Cue massive panic on my part – is she in pain and I haven’t noticed, is she not eating and I had convinced myself she was, had we infected other children, would the whole family be rendered useless as a result of painful blisters????
The doctor said that HFAM is very common internationally and we had probably got it as children in South Africa when we were little. My mom said we handn’t had it as children so now we wait… Although it is unusual for adults to get it there are cases of adults getting it.
There is no cure for HFAM in kids, you’ve just got to treat the symptoms unless there is a complication which would in any event make you go to hospital on its own (dehydration)
The doctor also said of the children she’s seen over the years, she has seen three different categories of kids:
- Kids who get it but show limited symptoms
- Kids who get it and show mild symptoms. Our little one is in this category. She is still eating, doesn’t have a temperature and is relatively happy.
- Kids who get lots of spots, high temp and don’t want to eat because the spots in their throats and mouth make them to sore.
In response to my panic about having infected other kids, the doctor reiterated that it is very very common. If a child has had HFAM before it’s unlikely that child would get it again but there are ‘sub-strains which means there is a chance the child would get it again. The doctor also said to maybe let mom’s whose kids we had seen the day before the spots know, any longer before that wasn’t necessary.
We were sent home with a fact sheet and told:
- spots can also appear on her legs and in her nappy area
- to give panadol or nurofen for pain relief and if she gets a temperature
- keep her hydrated
- maintain quarantine for at least a week
- wash hands, especially after nappy changes, and don’t use same eating and drinking vessels
- there is some research to suggest that the virus can stay in the stool for a while after the spots but it doesn’t cling to surfaces so a handwash would eliminate that worry
A day later and there is nothing that has changed, she is still eating, still doesn’t have a temperature, has little red spots on her hands, feet and mouth but only two (on the outside of her hands) have blisters around them.
Unfortunately one of the children we saw the day before she got her spots has started exhibiting spots 😦 (I’m waiting for my award for ‘world’s worst mom friend’). So my daughter must have been contagious the day before she got the spots.
The following information is from the fact sheet I got from the doctor (source: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/infectious/factsheets/pages/handfootmouth.aspx)
- Usually occurs in children under 10 years old.
- Can occur in older children and adults.
- NOT related to Foot and Mouth which affects cattle (somehow this makes me feel much better).
- May cause no symptoms or only mild symptoms.
- Blisters start as small red dots which later become ulcers.
- In addition to hands and feet, blisters can appear on the inside of cheeks, gums and sides of the tongue.
- In infants blisters can appear in nappy region.
- Blisters usually last 7 – 10 days.
- Children can experience low fever, irritability, sore throat, tiredness and may not want to eat.
- Very rarely it can develop into viral meningitis.
- HFAM is spread through saliva, sputum, nasal mucus or faecal contamination (nappy / toilet without washing hands).
- HFAM is also spread from the mouth or nose and direct fluid from the blisters.
- HFAM is also spread through the sharing of toys that have been in a sick child’s mouth.
- It usually takes 3 to 5 days from infection before blisters appear.
- Virus can remain in poo for weeks.
Below are pics of what our daughter looks like on day 3 of spots.