“My toddler was covered in boils from HFMD”

A mother details her son’s experience with Hand, Foot & Mouth disease, plus shares survival tips with parents.

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“Just like every other child, my son Dhilan has had his fair share of illnesses. So after two-and-a-half years of handling baby- and toddler-related health issues, I thought I had seen everything there was to see. That was until he came down with a severe case of Hand, Foot & Mouth disease (HFMD) two months ago.

Our day started like any other day ― I dropped Dhilan off at school that Friday. He seemed perfectly fine that morning, but I noticed he was warmer than usual when I picked him up. The fever got worse a few hours after we got home.

Dhilan wasn’t looking well either ― his eyes were watery and he was lethargic. When my son stops being active, I know it’s never a good sign as he’s normally a little Energizer Bunny. My husband and I decided to take him to the GP. By then, his fever had hit 38 deg C ― the doctor also noticed his throat was inflamed. Dhilan was diagnosed with a viral flu and we were sent home with some meds.

“To our shock and horror, the rash had ballooned into menacing colourless boils by the next morning.”

By the time we got home, Dhilan had rashes all over his body ― palms, knees, elbow creases, wrist, plus, the back of his neck and thighs. They were everywhere. Since Dhilan has tanned skin, the marks didn’t look red, also, they were small and faint, so HFMD was the last thing on my mind. I brushed it off as a harmless rash associated with the viral flu.

To our shock and horror, the rash had ballooned into menacing colourless boils by the next morning. They had also spread to other parts of Dhilan’s body ― they were on his knee caps, knuckles, between his fingers and on his inner thighs.

I had heard of and seen pictures of HFMD cases. The typical red spots, especially around the mouth, were missing in Dhilan’s case, so I still wasn’t sure if it was HFMD or not. A call to our paediatrician confirmed our fears and also that Dhilan’s case was presenting a little differently.

This is when the nightmare really began. Dhilan was constantly scratching, which led to a lot of bleeding. His fever also spiked ― to 39 deg C. We were prescribed an oral antihistamine to help relieve the itch, however, instead of making him drowsy, the medication had the opposite effect on our son. He was super hyper, but since the boils prevented him from moving too much, Dhilan was in a perpetually miserable state.

Besides the antihistamine, there weren’t any other meds that could help our little fella. We were told to give him lots of cooling liquids and foods, like coconut water and watermelon, to bring down the fever.