What is fever?

Fever is a raised temperature in a child and it is common in children. A normal temperature is about 36-37 degrees C, with variations of up to one degree.

Most children will recover within a short time and can be cared for at home if they continue to drink and remain alert without any worrying symptoms.

What causes a fever?

A fever is usually caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Sometimes, it may not be possible to find a reason even after a full examination.

If your child is otherwise looking well, then treatment may not be necessary. Most children can be safely cared for at home if otherwise well.

What do I do if my child has a fever?

  • Try to reduce the temperature by opening the windows to ensure the room is well ventilated
  • Regular oral fluid intake (where breastfed, continue as normal) to prevent dehydration
  • Keep your child comfortable; consider paracetamol or ibuprofen if your child appears distressed and unwell
  • Keep your child away from other children until their fever passes and notify the school or nursery
  • Watch out for signs of dehydration such as sunken soft spot on the top of their head, dry mouth, sunken eyes, absent tears, reduced wet nappies and poor overall appearance
  • Observe for any rash; do ‘tumbler test’ if any rash is seen
  • Check your child regularly at night
  • Do the ‘tumbler test’ if any rash is seen (see below)

Do not:

  • Warm or cold sponge the child; these physical methods of cooling can cause discomfort
  • Over or under dress the child
  • Give paracetamol and ibuprofen together at the same time; instead use them alternatively where child fails to respond to first option

The tumbler test

Press a glass tumbler firmly against the rash. If you can see spots through the glass and they do not fade, this is called a ‘non blanching rash’. If this rash is present, seek medical advice immediately to rule out serious infection.

The rash is harder to see on dark skin so check paler areas such as the palms of hands and soles of feet.

Fever traffic light advice

If your child:

  • becomes difficult to rouse
  • becomes blue, pale or floppy
  • is finding it hard to breathe
  • has a fit
  • has a rash that does not fade with pressure (see tumbler test).
  • Is under three months and has unexplained fever

⇒ Your child needs urgent help. Dial 999 or go to your nearest accident and emergency department.

If your child:

  • gets worse or if you are worried
  • has signs of dehydration
  • has temperature lasting more than five days and your child has not seen a health care professional
  • if your child is less than six months old

⇒ Contact your GP or nurse today. You can also dial NHS direct on 111 for advice.

If none of the above features are present ⇒ can be cared for at home using the information on this advice page.

Please use this space to record your child’s temperature and times paracetamol/ibuprofen is given:

If you are worried in the next 24 hours contact

Paediatric Assessment Unit (PAU) 9am-9pm
Telephone: 01935 384 788

Children’s ward 9pm-9am
Telephone: 01935 384 360

If you need this information in another format, eg. a different language, please ask a member of staff.

Ref: 10-17-114
Review: 06/21