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Coping with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Naturally

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease sounds pretty scary, but actually it’s a relatively harmless virus which is self-limiting and therefore burns itself out within a week or two. Saying that, it’s incredibly unpleasant and can affect children and adults in varying severities. Treatment is usually rest, as there are no conventional medicines available to control it.

The first sign is a fever or temperature.  This is then followed by a general feeling of being unwell, exhaustion, and finally spots. Lots of spots! The spots look like pimples, and they disappear when pressed with a glass.

We had an outbreak of Hand Foot and Mouth recently. My son caught it before I did. As soon as I saw the spotty rash on his hands I took him to the GP who confirmed Hand Foot and Mouth and sent us home for bed rest with pain relief. Continue reading Coping with Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Naturally

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What Do We Put on Our Skin?

Street Art, Cosmetics and Pregnancy; All topics I have experienced and talked about, but never at the same time… usually.

In 2013 there was a great deal of discussion in the media about the use of skin care products whilst pregnant. The RCOG released guidance on this suggesting that although they did not have any clear research as to what the risks are they felt it wise to recommend that pregnant women limited use of skin care products during pregnancy.

This raised many questions. Whether the recommendation was necessary, if it was underplayed or overplayed and what is actually known/reported about the ingredients of cosmetics. For me personally it raised the issue that regardless of pregnancy, I should be aware of what am I putting on my skin everyday!

I’m a life long user of skin care products, from baby lotion as an infant, moisturisers and bath products through childhood and then makeup and other skin care products as a teenager and adult.  I realised that with or without clear research, perhaps we should be paying more attention to what chemicals we are exposing ourselves to.

I decided that I wanted to raise this question ‘ what are we putting on our skin?’ through my art. And the way I chose to do this? By using these products as my paint, and creating an image from these as a piece of filmed street art.

This short film captures my art in progress, the finished piece, and the interest that the concept gained whilst I painted on the street.

The music I chose was really important. The striking female voice of Charlotte Eriksson and her beautiful song “Letdown” worked wonderfully in my opinion. The lyrics capturing other messages about how we look and what we do to attain that.

Since doing this street Art  I continued to question and change what I put on my skin, but it’s a work in progress! I’ve changed my shower gel to a homemade scrub of olive oil, sea salt and essential oil, which feels amazing on my skin and smells great.

I’ve changed my deodorant to a salt stick which works just as well as any roll on I’ve used previously.

– When buying my shampoo and conditioner I now pay close attention to and try to buy products without SLS or similar foaming agents which always dried my hands and scalp.

– My children use a lovely bath range from a nationwide chain which only include essential oils and other gentle ingredients that don’t irritate their skin.

– I no longer use self tanning products – so as a redhead I will try to embrace my natural paleness come the summer! But don’t hold me to that!

As far as cosmetics go I have until recently still using these. But since March 20th I decided to go Makeup free for a month. I am blogging about it on my website to see how my skin feels, but also to see how I feel psychologically without wearing it. I’ve read other blogs where women have done this, and I’ve read many views on makeup. From discussions on the chemical components, the oppression of women, the capitalisation of beauty but also the power, confidence and artistic elements that so many women use cosmetics for.

To see how I am doing at being makeup free for the first time in my adult life, check out my blog

painting and video © Susan Merrick


Susan grew up with a passion for drawing and painting, a passion that was reignited during her first pregnancy in 2008. Inspired by strong women in her art and self taught, Susan has continued to develop her style using a wide range of materials and canvas. Susan has created art for gifts, political humour, commissioned wall art, belly painting, and more recently illustration. Her art has been exhibited in Putney, Aldershot, and Cranleigh and she has had illustrations published in the form of children’s books, What A Lovely Sound! By Starr Meneely and Blue Jeans by Veronika Sophia Robinson. Currently Susan is working as a Sign Language Interpreter 2 days a week, and balancing being a Birth Doula and Artist around her role as a mother of two. She lives with her husband and children in Hampshire, UK and always learning from her children, she endeavours to improve her patience and skills in gentle parenting! For more information about Susan or to see more of her gallery visit her website or check out her posts and albums on and twitter@smdoula


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Caring for Newborn Skin – Naturally

My second son was born just a few weeks ago, and I was immediately struck by how incredibly beautiful, soft, and delicate newborn skin is. Is there any better ‘drug’ than the musky scent and the satin feel of your infant’s new skin?

Skin is our largest organ. It amounts to around 16% of our body weight. Newborn skin is particularly delicate, being around 30% thinner than adult skin, and therefore more vulnerable to irritants and the absorption of toxins.

Newborn skin is constantly changing and growing, and can be susceptible to dryness. Adult cosmetics products are generally too harsh to use on baby skin – and as such, it is important to use only products that have been designed specifically for babies. However, there’s a lot we can do to care for our baby’s skin without spending a great lot on special products. A lot of benefit can be gained from just ‘simplifying’ your baby’s hygiene routine.

Here are some tips for caring simply for your baby’s precious new skin:

Delay the first bath – When your baby is born, he/she may be covered in a white waxy substance. This is known as ‘Vernix’ and acts as a temporary barrier, to protect baby from infection and environmental stress. Delaying your baby’s first bath, means that he/she maximises the benefit of this coating.

Bathe baby infrequently – babies don’t really get dirty do they? I remember I bathed my first child every night as a baby. I had read that giving baby a bath each evening was part of establishing a bedtime routine. However, bathing can tend to have a drying effect on the skin, and really isn’t necessary daily. My son’s dry skin issues improved dramatically once I reduced the frequency of his baths.

Use cotton wool and water instead of baby wipes – I have seen advertising for baby wipes which states “cleansing as gentle as cotton wool and water”. In that case, why use anything else? Even ‘gentle’ wipes can irritate very new skin.

Only use a ‘cleanser’ for hair initially – a baby’s body doesn’t get dirty enough to ‘cleanse’. Cleansers (unless extremely gentle) can strip the skin of its natural oils. However, hair will need a wash now and then.

Moisturise with an oil – choose something light and easily absorbed such as sunflower. It doesn’t need to be expensive. ‘Creams’ and ‘butters’ are great as a denser, heavier and more protective emollient, but unless your baby has especially dry skin problems, a light oil should be sufficient.

Always choose unscented products for your baby. Unless you are a qualified Aromatherapist, you can’t be sure of the effects of essential oils. Furthermore a ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ is generally a synthetic ingredient. Besides, babies smell gorgeous naturally right?

Always use natural ingredients/products, and check your labels. INCI names are confusing but can be easily ‘translated’ via Google. Be sure and confident about what you are applying to your baby’s skin.

Remember issues of dermal absorption and how much more vulnerable to this newborn skin is. What you put on, goes in, to a certain extent. Try to minimise the exposure your baby gets to ‘products’.

Don’t change baby’s clothes unnecessarily. As with bathing, babies don’t tend to get ‘dirty’ often and frequent changes can ‘disturb’ and ‘irritate’ sensitive skin.

Stay on top of dampness and soreness in the nappy area. I swear by Baltic amber for teething and avoiding nappy rash. You can also easily make your own natural talcum powder to keep the delicate nappy area dry (see below). Caring for your newborn’s skin doesn’t need to be complex, or expensive. Less is really very much more.


(thanks to The Holistic Beauty Book by Star Khechara)

50g arrowroot powder

30g orris-root powder

20g powdered lavender flowers

All ingredients available to buy from

©photo by Kreatively Kristin is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0


Bare Bodycare III19 copy

Cath Mather is a mother to 2 boys, and an experienced Occupational Therapist, Hydrotherapist, and Reiki practitioner. She also finds time to run her own small children’s natural skincarebusiness. You can contact her here

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