It is worthwhile purchasing a digital electronic thermometer, which is best placed in the child’s armpit to record the temperature – forehead thermometers are less accurate. The infra-red type that measures the temperature of the ear drum is the most reliable.
Significant fever is defined as a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius or more. Most cases are viral and will recover rapidly.
Use paracetamol or ibuprofen if needed to lower the temperature, but we no longer recommend tepid sponging. Give plenty of fluids. However, there are circumstances when you need to seek medical advice:
- An infant under 3 months
- Fever lasing more than 5 days
- A rash that doesn’t blanch on pressure – see below
- Unusual sleepiness
- Dry nappies or not passing much urine
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty breathing
The glass test is used on rashes to exclude serious illness. Press a clear glass or plastic tumbler firmly onto the affected skin; the rash should fade or blanch as blood is squeezed out of the skin – if it doesn’t, seek urgent medical attention.