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High temperature (fever) in children

A high temperature is very common in young children. The temperature usually returns to normal within 3 or 4 days.

What is a high temperature?

A normal temperature in babies and children is about 36.4C, but this can vary slightly from child to child.

A high temperature is 38C or more.

A high temperature 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.

Checking a high temperature

Your child might:

  • feel hotter than usual to the touch on their forehead, back or tummy
  • feel sweaty or clammy
  • have red cheeks

Use a digital thermometer, which you can buy from pharmacies and supermarkets, to take your child's temperature.

What to do if your child has a high temperature

You can usually look after your child or baby at home. The temperature should go down over 3 or 4 days.

هل

  • 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 if they're distressed or unwell

  • get medical advice if you're worried about your child

لا

  • do not undress your child or sponge them down to cool them – a high temperature is a natural and healthy response to infection

  • لا تغطي عليها في الكثير من الملابس أو ملابس النوم

  • لا تعطي الأسبرين إلى تحت 16s

  • لا تجمع بين ايبوبروفين والباراسيتامول، إلا إذا كان سباق الجائزة الكبرى يخبرك إلى

  • لا تعطي الباراسيتامول لطفل أقل من شهرين

  • لا تعطي ايبوبروفين لطفل أقل من 3 أشهر أو أقل من 5kg

  • لا تعطي ايبوبروفين للأطفال المصابين بالربو

Read more about giving medicines to children.

Coronavirus

At the moment it can be hard to know what to do if your child is unwell. 

A high temperature can lead to a child being very unwell quickly. It's important to get medical help if you need it.

Call 111 or your GP surgery now if your child:

  • is under 3 months old and has a temperature of 38C or higher, or you think they have a high temperature
  • is 3 to 6 months old and has a temperature of 39C or higher, or you think they have a high temperature
  • has other signs of illness, such as a rash, as well as a high temperature
  • has a high temperature that's lasted for 5 days or more
  • does not want to eat, or is not their usual self and you're worried
  • has a high temperature that does not come down with paracetamol
  • is dehydrated – such as nappies that are not very wet, sunken eyes, and no tears when they're crying

Call 999 if your child:

  • has a stiff neck
  • has a rash that does not fade when you press a glass against it
  • is bothered by light
  • has a fit (febrile seizure) for the first time (they cannot stop shaking)
  • has unusually cold hands and feet
  • has pale, blotchy, blue or grey skin
  • has a weak, high-pitched cry that's not like their normal cry
  • is drowsy and hard to wake
  • is extremely agitated (does not stop crying) or is confused
  • finds it hard to breathe and sucks their stomach in under their ribs
  • has a soft spot on their head that curves outwards (bulging fontanelle)
  • is not responding like they normally do, or is not interested in feeding or normal activities