Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Fever in children infographic (text only)

2-minute read

Fever in children

www.healthdirect.gov.au

What is a fever?

A temperature of 38°C or higher is a fever. It's usually a sign of illness, such as an infection.

Types of thermometer

Digital: Quick to use, accurate and suitable for oral, armpit or anal readings. Always use a digital thermometer under the armpit with children younger than 5.

Ear (tympanic): Placed in the child's ear canal, ear thermometers are quick to use but must be carefully positioned for an accurate reading.

Touchless (forehead) thermometer: Inaccurate if not placed correctly. This measures the child's temperature using an infrared reading of an artery in the forehead. The thermometer does not touch the skin.

Pain relief medicines and children

  • Avoid pain relief medicines unless the child is in pain or discomfort.
  • Children aged 1 month or older may take paracetamol.
  • Children aged 3 months or older (and weighing more than 5kg) may take paracetamol or ibuprofen.

Decision tree: What should I do?

  • If your child has a temperature of 38°C or higher…
  • Is your child aged 0 – 3 months?
    • YES - See a doctor immediately
  • Is your child more than 3 months old?
    • YES - Does your child have any of these symptoms as well as a fever? Headache or stiff neck, drowsiness, seizure, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhoea, new skin rash, dehydration.
      • YES - See a doctor immediately
      • NOT SURE? - Call healthdirect on 1800 022 222
      • NO - Manage fever at home. If your child is older than 3 months and seems well, you can treat them at home: - Keep fluids up - Dress in light clothing - Keep the room cool - Consider pain relief.

This infographic does not replace the advice of your doctor or pharmacist. Read the label on the packet and information pamphlet before using medicines. For further information, call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 or speak to your health professional. In an emergency, call triple zero (000) without delay.

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Impetigo - myDr.com.au

Impetigo - sometimes called school sores - is a very contagious skin infection. It is most common in children and infants and causes sores, especially on the face.

Read more on myDr website

Breasts: inside women's breasts - myDr.com.au

An internal view shows that the breast is made up of fat, nipple, glands and a network of ducts.

Read more on myDr website

Varicose veins - myDr.com.au

Varicose veins (twisted, swollen veins) in the legs are a common problem. Find out about the causes, symptoms and treatment for varicose veins.

Read more on myDr website

Listeria risk in pregnancy - myDr.com.au

Listeria bacteria can cause serious problems during pregnancy. Listeria can be transmitted by eating contaminated food, but there are steps you can take to avoid infection.

Read more on myDr website

Malaria precautions while pregnant or breast feeding - myDr.com.au

Malaria infection in pregnant women may be more severe than in non-pregnant women. Find out what precautions need to be taken for travel.

Read more on myDr website

Physical activity in children and teenagers - myDr.com.au

Get the low down on why physical activity is so important for children and teenagers.

Read more on myDr website

Ultrasound - myDr.com.au

Ultrasound is a way of taking a look at the unborn baby without using potentially harmful X-rays.

Read more on myDr website

Head lice - myDr.com.au

Head lice (or nits), which live and breed in hair or on the scalp, can be treated by wet combing with a conditioner or with various shampoos and lotions.

Read more on myDr website

Ovulation testing - myDr.com.au

Find out how ovulation tests can help you find your most fertile days and increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Read more on myDr website

Childhood rashes - myDr.com.au

Distinguish between the childhood rashes of rubella (German measles), measles, chickenpox and fifth disease ('slapped cheek' disease).

Read more on myDr website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback