Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) is a very contagious viral disease that affects children under the age of ten. It is caused by a virus called Coxsackie virus. It spreads through contact with unwashed hands, surfaces contaminated with faeces, and an infected person’s stool, respiratory fluids or stool.
The symptoms of this disease include fever, sore throat, tiredness, painful ulcers or sores on the inside of the mouth and tongue, and blisters or rashes on hands, feet, buttocks, backs of the knees and elbows.
This disease is self-limiting and goes away on its own within a week to ten days. It cannot be prevented by a vaccine or cured with medication. However, you can try some effective home remedies to soothe the symptoms and make your child more comfortable. Once the child is well again, reinfection is very rare as the body develops immunity to this virus.
Children should be taught good hygiene to avoid the spread of this infection. They should be encouraged to wash their hands with soap after using the bathroom. They should also wash their hands thoroughly before meals.
Natural Home Remedies to Treat Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease in a Child
Some of the remedies include:
1. Tender Coconut Water
Coconut water cools the body and is gentle on the stomach. It contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and anti-oxidants. It also contains lauric acid which fights viruses. Consuming coconut water when you have HFMD can alleviate pain in the mouth and help keep the body hydrated. You can also freeze coconut water and have your child chew on the ice cubes to reduce the pain of the mouth sores.
2. Oil Pulling
This is an old Ayurvedic method for keeping good oral hygiene. It also helps soothe the mouth-sores caused by HFMD. Take a tablespoon of any oil such as peanut, sesame or coconut, swish it around in your mouth for 5 to 10 minutes and then spit it out. Make sure you do not swallow the oil after swishing it around in your mouth.
3. Cod-liver Oil
Cod-liver oil contains Vitamins A, D and E. It boosts body immunity and has anti-microbial properties. It is a good remedy for HFMD. You can consume it as capsules or mix the oil in juice or yoghurt and consume it.
Echinacea is a herb that belongs to the daisy family. It has antimicrobial properties. This herb boosts the immune system and reduces symptoms of fever, colds and other infections like HFMD. You can consume it as capsules or boil its leaves in water to make a tea and drink it with honey.
5. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is a very good disinfectant and fights viruses. It also helps in making you feel calm and relaxed and help you get a good night’s sleep. You can add a few drops in bath water or diffuse it into the room with an essential oil diffuser.
6. Lemon Essential Oil
Lemon essential oil is another disinfectant. You can add a few drops to your body wash to fight the virus and nourish the skin. You can also mix a few drops in a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil and apply it on the rashes.
7. Liquorice Root
Licorice root has anti-viral properties and has been used as a home remedy for treating various viral infections. It contains a chemical called triterpenoid that boosts immunity. It also forms a thin layer of mucous on the insides of the throat and oesophagus, thus helping to soothe the blisters. Boil some liquorice roots in water, strain it to make a tea and have it with honey. An overdose of liquorice can have harmful effects, so use it with caution.
8. Salt Water Rinse and Baths
Rinsing your mouth several times a day with warm salt water can give relief from the painful blisters and mouth sores. You can use common table salt for this or Himalayan pink salt. The pink salt is more effective because it balances the pH level inside the mouth. Also, adding Epsom salts to the bath water can help soothe the rashes on the body and makes you heal faster from the HFMD symptoms. You can also add a few drops of lavender or lemon essential oil to the Epsom salt bath to give you immense relief.
Garlic has strong antimicrobial properties because it contains high levels of sulphur compounds. You can include more garlic in the food, have it as capsules, or make a herbal tea by boiling 3 cloves of garlic in water and drinking it when cooled.
Elderberry is well known for its antioxidant properties that boost immunity and improve resistance to diseases. It helps the body produce mucous to fight viruses. It slightly increases body temperature, thus making it difficult for viruses to multiply and grow. Make an elderberry and honey syrup and have it frequently to heal faster from HFMD.
Ginger contains several anti-viral chemicals . It also has sedative and pain-relieving effects. Make ginger root tea by simmering crushed, chopped ginger in water until the water is concentrated with ginger juice. Cool this and have with honey.
Astralagus is a plant of the legume family and has been used as traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. It is known for its immune-system-boosting properties. It stops viruses from multiplying in the body. You can buy astralagus ointments for topical application. You can also buy astralagus tea-bags or make your own by simmering a teaspoon of grated astralagus root in water. Strain this and drink it with honey to soothe the symptoms of HFMD.
13. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has antiviral properties. You can apply coconut oil to the areas with rashes or blisters to soothe them. You can also use a tablespoon of coconut oil to swish around the mouth and spit out to soothe the blisters in the mouth.
14. Indian Lilac or Neem
Neem or Indian Lilac has several antimicrobial properties and has been used to treat viral diseases for hundreds of years. You can apply neem oil to the rashes on your body. You can also powder dried neem leaves and make a paste of it with water. Apply this paste to the rashes and blisters for quick healing. You can use neem oil combined with coconut oil and a few drops of lavender oil for topical application.
The Indian gooseberry (scientific name Emblica Officinalis) is rich in vitamin C, an important vitamin necessary for immunity. It also helps in purifying the blood and aids in digestion. You can consume it as gooseberry juice or make a powder from dried gooseberries and consume it with water.
Pomegranate contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which help soothe the symptoms of HFMD. Drink pomegranate juice or just eat the fleshy seeds for quicker healing.
17. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains vitamins B and C. It also contains a chemical called inulin which increases our white blood cell (WBC) count. WBCs, help fight viruses in our body. Mix 2 teaspoons of the apple cider vinegar in warm water and gargle with this to soothe the throat.
Calendula is a herb belonging to the marigold family. These plants have antibacterial and antiviral properties. They also lower inflammation, quicken healing and help maintain oral health. You can make a tea from calendula petals and consume it with honey. You can also use calendula cream to apply over the rashes to soothe them.
19. Holy Basil or Tulsi
Tulsi is a herb that has several medicinal properties. It fights harmful microbes, reduces inflammation, and has pain-relieving effects. You can chew Tulsi leaves or make a juice of the leaves, dilute it with water and drink it a few times a day for faster relief from HFMD.
20. Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera has antimicrobial properties. It also increases immunity. Aloe Vera contains minerals, vitamins and several other compounds that are beneficial for the skin. Apply Aloe Vera gel to the rashes and blisters for soothing relief. You can also drink Aloe Vera juice for faster healing from HFMD.
The symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease can make children very uncomfortable and irritable. The rashes and blisters can be very painful for the little ones. Try these home remedies to soothe the symptoms and make your child as comfortable as possible.
Also Read: Hand Foot and Mouth Disease in Babies