3 Illnesses Your Child Will Probably Get That Sound Worse Than They Are

When I became a mother, I was so hyper vigilant in making sure that I did my best to avoid my child getting sick. I religiously washed my hands, pacifiers, and pretty much everything that touched her. I wouldn’t let certain friends’ kids come over who often had runny noses for fear of Pearl catching whatever pre-school crud was going around. Needless to say, when she got her first cold, I panicked. Fast forward to 3 years later, and my toddler fights off infections and viruses on the regular. Just over the last 2 months she’s been sick 4 times. We’ve been to the doctor more times than I can count, and she’s on even more homeopathic supplements and vitamins than I can remember to give her.

If you’re a first time mom, or are going to be soon, I’m here to tell you that it’s totally normal and OK (dare I say “good”) for kids to get sick. It boosts their immune systems & this is how they regulate their little systems to grow up into healthy adults. We need not panic so much. Here are 3 scary sounding illnesses that most kids get (some you’ve probably never heard of) that really aren’t that scary at all. I had never even heard of a couple of these until I had a child, so you’re not alone!

1. Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease

OHHHHH scarrrryyy! It sounded so bad when it came out of the doctor’s mouth, I teared up. I thought for sure we were doomed to some kind of flesh eating bacteria, and that my child would end up disfigured and spread some awful plague throughout her school. WRONG. HFMD is soooo common in little kids. They are actually in the same family of enteroviruses. Sadly you can get HFMD more than once, and it is generally not as bad in children as it is if an adult or infant catches it (it’s generally worse). The symptoms of this illness are a couple of days of fever, followed by red, cold-sore like bumps in the back of the throat. Some children develop the red bumps on their hands and feet as well. My child only had the bumps in her throat, and one unnoticeable bump on the hand. Nothing ever appeared on her feet. I was cued that something was bothering her throat when she refused to eat or drink anything other than water, and cried when she drank juice or had anything salty. That was pretty much the worst part about it. After a few days, the sore throat mellowed out and that was about as bad as it got. It definitely did not live up to its scary name! Some kids get it worse than others, but it is rarely dangerous. It is most contagious for 7 days, but can remain contagious for longer. Kids can spread it through sharing sippy cups, licking tabletops, and all of the other contaminated things they put in their mouths. The friends I have who’s kids have had HFMD also said it was mellow & nothing particularly grievous. So, if your kid gets this, don’t panic. It’s no worse than some of the colds we’ve experienced in our household.

example of HFM on hands, though it usually does not appear this pronounced.

example of HFM on hands, though it usually does not appear this pronounced.

2. Roseola 

Here’s another one I panicked over. I thought for sure Roseola was a rare, life threatening condition, once again trying to kill off my family. Wrong, again. Roseola is a rather harmless virus that MOST small children develop at some point (some, multiple times). All of my friends’ babies have had it before the age of two. This strange little virus starts off as a high fever for 2-3 days, generally with no other symptoms. After the fever breaks, a crew of tiny, red bumps appear all over the torso of the child. They last for a few days and then go away. The only worrisome part of this virus is the high fever. My daughter’s fever got pretty high in the first couple days, but don’t worry, you can bring it down with infant tylenol & ibuprofen. Once the fever passes, the rash that appears is pretty much painless and itch-free for the child. It looks scary but the child doesn’t even notice it, usually. Roseola is contagious during the fever portion, not whenever the rash is visible. Roseola spreads through tiny drops of fluid from the nose and throat of infected people, meaning other kids can catch it pretty easily through sneezing, laughing, touching, etc. Still, it is not a disease to be frightened of.

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Roseola Rash

3. Chicken Pox

While the other two may remain new to you, everyone knows what chicken pox is. Most of us have had it. Almost everyone has had chicken pox by adulthood, though it is most common in children. CP is most mellow in children over the age of 3. It is more complicated & severe in infants, adults, and those with compromised immune systems. It is highly contagious, which is why most of the time, when one kid gets it, some of the children in his or her class as well as siblings will contract it if they haven’t had it before. The Varicella vaccine is for the prevention of chickenpox, though not everyone gets it. It starts out with a fever & then the blisters appear on the skin. By far, the worst part is the severe itching, so soothing oatmeal baths, essential oils, and calamine lotion are usually used to calm the skin. It is best not to scratch the bumps. It is most contagious the day before the rash appears. Once you have chicken pox, you usually don’t get it again. Most kids with chicken pox live to tell the tale of their week on the couch watching tv, eating popsicles, and getting lots of love and attention. I still remember when I had it as a kid. It was a week of being treated like the only child (even though I was the youngest of 4)!! Oh, the pampering!

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Chicken pox

**note: I understand that on a case by case basis, some of these diseases can be bad, but I’m giving a general perspective of the majority of well children who contract them**


Lisa O



10 comments on “3 Illnesses Your Child Will Probably Get That Sound Worse Than They Are

  1. heather

    Lisa I’m doing the obsessing now for my one year old! Good advice! What homeopathic goods do you use? We do echinacea but I need to do more research on vitamin c!

    • RaddestMom

      I use a lot of different things. Get familiar with the little blue vials of homeopathy from Boiron from the health food store or whole foods. Dissolve 5 pellets in water or breastmilk and give to baby under the tongue if possible (pearl just chews them). It’s best to dissolve them in a sippy cup and let them drink. Whatever the ailment is, just ask the person working in the homeopathy aisle to help you out with what you need, or google it. The internet has so many resources! I’m lucky enough to have a homeopathic pediatrician here in LA, so I get a lot of first hand information.
      Probiotics (good ones), I like the RAW ones from whole foods for kids. It is a tasteless powder you can dissolve in anything. Most of the health starts in the gut so without probiotics its harder for kids to heal & it keeps them well longer! Should be given daily

      • Heather

        I am so late to reply but meaning to get back to see if you had responded! Thanks for doing so! Yes, love the RAW probiotics too and I am so convinced that has helped limit the strength of his colds. I think where I get concerned is about dosages and knowing what herbs or tinctures are safe for him. I have a few books but I wish I had a resource like the pediatrician you mention! I will check out the Boiron stuff. Thanks for the tip!! Cheers!

  2. Net Tripper

    Lisa? Hand Foot and Mouth disease is being studied as a cause or trigger for Type 1 diabetes and if you get it as an adult it can be HORRIBLE and can alter your nervous system and digestion …Its not HARMLESS at all
    Tylenol is being researched as the trigger for autism … btw
    Please leave the medical advice to the professionals

    • RaddestMom

      “is being studied” is not proof. I already knew that about tylenol, but it’s been linked to the mother’s use in pregnancy, not when a child takes it. I’m not one to use a lot of tylenol on my child but if she is having a dangerously high fever & is in pain i’d rather risk whatever side effect it is than have her be in pain or have a febrile seizure. If you would have read the article as it is written you would see that I indeed stated that enteroviruses are way tougher when contracted by ADULTS and INFANTS than they are for children. Please re-read and absorb. It’s people like you who fear monger others into being terrified of everything, when the truth is that HFMD, chicken pox, and roseola are USUALLY harmless.

      • Nicola Hughes

        Hi Lisa,
        I am glad you wrote this, I wish I had of when Olly was born. He is now 18 months old but unfortunately we have had to be in and out of hospital with him since he turned 8 months old. He has a bad cough all the time and all though for a while they said it was viral they have now diagnosed him with Asthma (which is unusual as they don’t do that till they are 2). Although this cannot be harmful and can be controlled it can also be very harmful as well. It’s awful seeing my child everyday having to take them inhalers and most days having to force it on him as he just doesn’t like it. I hate as well when I wake up and he’s coughing and coughing (I would say an asthma attack but we don’t really know till he can talk and understand properly if that is the case). I’m hoping like me he will grow out it and by 13 be able to run in the school cross country or be able to dance a full song. Thanks so much for your advice and if you have any advance for my lil boy then please let me know. Ignore the idiots telling you to leave it to the professionals.
        All our love
        Nicola and Olly

      • Mary J

        I didn’t realize that there is a study linking Tylenol to autism in pregnant mothers? I never took one pain reliever my whole second pregnancy and I have a son with autism. Do you have a link to the site that talks about this? I’d love to read about it. Thank you :)

  3. slightly sensitive

    My child HAD necrotizing faciitis, flesh eating bacteria, at 8 months… normally articles like this don’t bother me, I enjoy them… but to put NF and HFM in the same sentence really bothers me… you don’t ‘catch’ NF, it’s bacterial based and ultra rare, my son is not disfigured and we are lucky he had a team of craniofacial plastic surgeons who had seen it before, because of them he is alive… please consider those few of us who’s children have suffered something rare and terrifying like NF when you compare something so common as hand foot and mouth disease… I still have nightmares about that day in the children’s hospital emergency room… it rocked our world and changed our baby’s face forever.

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