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Sponge Bath for a Child's Fever - Topic Overview

A sponge bath may be given if:

  • Your child's fever is 104°F (40°C) or higher and
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen has not lowered the temperature and
  • Your child is very uncomfortable.

Give your child an appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen before giving him or her a sponge bath. Wait 30 minutes to see whether the medicine brings the child's fever below 104°F (40°C).

Give a sponge bath as follows:

  • Use lukewarm water [90°F (32.2°C) to 95°F (35°C)] . Do not use cold water, ice, or rubbing alcohol, which will lower the child's body temperature too quickly.
  • Sponge for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Stop if the child starts to shiver.

If your child doesn't like the sponge bath or doesn't feel better after the bath, there is no need to give another one.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 13, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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