- A temperature is high (known as a fever), if it is above 38 degrees C.
- A fever is the body’s natural response to fighting infections like coughs and colds.
- Many things can cause a high temperature in children, from common childhood illnesses like chickenpox and tonsillitis, to vaccinations.
- The height of the fever DOES NOT TELL us how ill a child is (over the age of 6 months of age)
- Whether a fever responds to medicine or not does not tell us how ill a child is
- If your child has a temperature but is otherwise ok, there is no need to give medicines.
- If your child is miserable, in pain or distressed, give paracetamol or ibuprofen (do not use ibuprofen when your child has chickenpox).
- TREAT YOUR CHILD, NOT THE FEVER
- Most infections do not need antibiotics
Seek urgent medical attention if your child:
- has a rash which does not go when skin is pressed or stretched between your fingers
- has mottled or blue skin
- is drowsy/not responding as normal
- has a stiff neck or cannot tolerate bright lights
- has difficulty breathing
- has a seizure (fit)
- has a temperature under the age of 6 months
- is showing signs of dehydration – such as nappies that are not very wet, sunken eyes, and no tears when they’re crying
Managing your child’s fever
- give them plenty of fluids
- look out for signs of dehydration
- give them food if they want it
- check on your child regularly during the night
- keep them at home
- give them paracetamol or ibuprofen if they’re distressed or unwell
- get medical advice if you’re worried about your child
- do not undress your child or sponge them down to cool them – fever is a natural and healthy response to infection
- do not cover them up in too many clothes or bedclothes
- do not give aspirin to under 16s
The following links can be very useful:
When using Paracetamol/Ibuprofen
- Give your child four doses of paracetamol over 24 hours and three doses of ibuprofen over 24 hours. Do not give more than this.
- Leave 4 to 6 hours between each dose of paracetamol and 6 to 8 hours between each dose of ibuprofen.
- Give your child paracetamol and / or ibuprofen based on their weight not their age. This will work better in bringing down their temperature . The following links provide further information on weight based dosing:
Frequently asked questions:
Can I give my child paracetamol and ibuprofen if they are already on an antibiotic?
Will paracetamol and ibuprofen stop febrile convulsions (fever fit)?
No. They will not prevent febrile convulsions and you should not use them specifically for this purpose.
How do I give my child paracetamol and ibuprofen?
Start by giving your child either paracetamol or Ibuprofen. If the one you started with doesn’t work, try giving them the other. If this doesn’t work try giving them both paracetamol and ibuprofen with the appropriate dose interval.