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First Aid & Emergencies

Treating Fever in Children

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For Children 4 Months Old or Older Who Have Been Immunized

1. Take Temperature

  • Rectal. For a child under 4 or 5 months, use a rectal thermometer to get an accurate reading.  A child has a fever if the rectal temperature is above 100.4 F.
  • Oral. For a child over 4 or 5 months, you can use an oral or pacifier thermometer. The child has a fever if it registers above 100.4 F.
  • Ear. If the child is 6 months old or older, you can use an ear or temporal artery thermometer, but this may not be as accurate. Still, under most circumstances, it's a reasonable way to get a good enough estimate. If it's essential that you get an accurate reading, take a rectal temperature.
  • Armpit. If you take the child’s temperature in the armpit, a reading above 100.4 F usually indicates a fever.

 

2. If Temperature Is Below 102 Degrees F

  • You don't need to treat the fever unless the child is uncomfortable.
  • Make sure the child gets plenty of fluids and rest.

3. If Temperature Is Above 102 Degrees F but Below 105 Degrees

  • You can give child-formula acetaminophen (Tylenol). Ask your pediatrician before giving any fever-reducing medicine to a child for the first time.
  • Bathing or sponging the child with lukewarm water may help bring down the temperature. Do not use cold water, ice baths, or alcohol.
  • Do not give aspirin to a child under 18 years of age because of the risk of Reye's syndrome, a dangerous brain disease.
  • Call your pediatrician to see if you need to bring your child in to see the doctor.

4. Follow Up

  • A child should not return to school or day care until the child is fever free fo at least 24 hours.
  • Call your pediatrician if the fever lasts for more than two days, gets higher, or you are concerned.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Roy Benaroch, MD on September 14, 2013
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