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    Treating Fever in Children

    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 11, 2015
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