Although it can be frightening when a child's temperature rises, fever itself causes no harm and can actually be a good thing — it's often the body's way of fighting infections.
Signs and Symptoms
A child may have a fever if he or she is:
- warm to the touch
What to Do
It's best to keep a child home from school or childcare until the temperature has been normal for at least 24 hours. If your child is uncomfortable, here are some ways to relieve symptoms:
- Offer plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Give acetaminophen or ibuprofen based on package recommendations. Do not give aspirin.
- Never use rubbing alcohol or cold baths to bring the fever down.
- Dress your child in lightweight clothing and cover with a light sheet or blanket.
- Let your child eat what he or she wants, and don't force eating if your child doesn't feel like it.
- If your child also is vomiting and/or has diarrhea, ask the doctor if you should give a children's electrolyte (rehydration) solution.
- Make sure your child gets plenty of rest.
Seek Medical Care
- an infant is younger than 3 months old and has a temperature of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or higher
If an older child has a fever and:
- appears sick
- develops a rash
- has persistent diarrhea or repeated vomiting
- has signs of dehydration (peeing less than usual, not having tears when crying, less alert and less active than usual)
- has recurring fever for 5 days
- has a chronic medical problem like sickle cell disease, heart problems, cancer, or lupus
Fevers are often unavoidable. The key is to make your child as comfortable as possible until the fever passes, and get medical treatment when necessary.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: April 2014
|Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) The CDC (the national public health institute of the United States) promotes health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease, injury, and disability.|
|AAP Pediatric Referral Department Use this website to find a pediatrician in your area or to find general health information for parents from birth through age 21.|
|American Academy of Family Physicians This site, operated by the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), provides information on family physicians and health care, a directory of family physicians, and resources on health conditions.|
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|How to Safely Give Acetaminophen What kind? How much? How often? Find out how to give this pain and fever medicine.|
|First Aid: Sore Throat Sore throats are usually caused by viruses. Here's what to do if your child has a sore throat.|
|Vomiting Most vomiting is caused by gastroenteritis, and usually isn't serious. These home-care tips can help prevent dehydration.|
|Febrile Seizures Febrile seizures are full-body convulsions caused by high fevers that affect young kids. Although they can be frightening, they usually stop on their own and don't cause any other health problems.|
|Flu Center Learn all about protecting your family from the flu and what to do if your child gets flu-like symptoms.|
|Diarrhea Most kids battle diarrhea from time to time, so it's important to know what to do to relieve and even prevent it.|
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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