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Sponge Bath for a Child's Fever

Overview

Before you give a sponge bath to a child who has a fever of 104°F (40°C) or higher, give your child an appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Wait 30 minutes then check your child's temperature. See whether the medicine brings the child's fever below 104°F (40°C).

If your child's fever is still 104°F (40°C) or higher and your child is uncomfortable, you might try a sponge bath.

Follow these steps to give a sponge bath.

  • 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.

Credits

Current as of: March 9, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor MD - Emergency Medicine
David Messenger MD - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine

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