Caring for a sick child is a tough job. As parents we want to do what is best for our children and we strive to ease any and all discomfort they might be feeling. When our little one comes down with a fever it can be scary for both the parent and the child. We may find ourselves reaching for an over-the-counter fever reducing drug to make things more comfortable. But is bringing down a fever with medication the best choice?
Children & Fevers: The Wet Sock Treatment
Why Does My Child Have a Fever?
Body temperature is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain. When the body is fighting bacteria, a virus, or infection the internal temperature is raised and blood moves from the skin to the center of the body. A fever is defined as an internal body temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher. Fever is the body’s way of fighting an infection and even though it can be scary to have a child with a fever, it’s actually a very good sign that the immune system is functioning properly.
The immune system uses the fever as an effective method to slow down an infection. Contrary to popular belief, fevers are NOT a bad sign. In fact, a fever between 102-103 degrees is thought to be the “ideal” range for the immune system to work the most efficiently. (Source)
Conventional treatment for children usually includes the use of fever reducers like acetaminophen or NSAIDS. While these medications provide symptom relief, they actually make it hard for the immune system to do its job and allow the germ or virus to spread more rapidly (remember the internal heat of a fever slows down the virus/bacteria).
Bringing down a fever artificially can increase your child’s chances of getting a secondary infection (like a respiratory infection) that may send you to a doctor’s office for a prescription! Additionally, frequent use of acetaminophen in children has been linked to an increased risk of asthma and autoimmune disease. (Source 1, Source 2, Source 3)
Holistic Remedy for Fevers
During a fever the body is working hard so a child should rest and much as possible.
Follow your child’s lead as it relates to eating. If the child is hungry a few sips of soup made with bone broth or a scrambled egg are both easy to digest and highly nourishing foods. Food can even bring a fever down a degree or two, but let your child decide when they are ready to eat.
Dress your child in light layers of clothing and keep them hydrated with sips of bone broth or diluted fresh fruit juices. Additionally you can use a natural remedy like the wet sock treatment to help your child’s immune system.
Wet Sock Treatment
Wet sock treatment is used to stimulate the immune system and increase blood circulation. This treatment is an old, effective natural remedy and can be used as a replacement for fever reducing medications. It is best to use wet sock treatment on the first day of the illness and to do it for a few nights in a row for maximum effectiveness.
Supplies You Will Need:
- 1 pair of very thin cotton socks
- 1 pair of wool socks
- 1 bowl of ice water
- 1 warm bath or 1 bowl of very warm water (large enough to soak feet)
- Soak the pair of thin socks in the bowl of ice water. When the socks are completely wet, remove them from the water and wring them out thoroughly.
- Take a warm bath for 5-10 minutes. Warming the feet first is very important for the effectiveness of the treatment. Wet sock treatment can be harmful if your feet are not warmed. Instead of a bath you may also soak your child’s feet in a bowl of very warm water (make the water temperature as warm as possible without burning your child of course). Once the feet have been warmed for 10 minutes do the next step.
- Dry off feet (and body if a bath was taken) with a dry towel.
- Place ice-cold wet socks on feet. Then cover the wet socks with the thick (dry) wool socks. Put on pajamas and go directly to bed. Make sure your child gets under the covers and avoids getting chilled.
- Wear the socks overnight. During the night, your child might wake up with wet pajamas from sweating. If so, have your child change into dry pajamas, but leave on the socks. You will find that the wet cotton socks will be dry in the morning.
Do you use any natural remedies for your children when they have fevers? Tell me in the comments below? Read more about holistic health for children on the Kula Mama website.