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Sponge Bath for a Child's Fever

Topic Overview

A sponge bath may be given if:

  • Your child's fever is 104°F (40°C) or higher and
  • Acetaminophen or ibuprofen has not lowered the temperature and
  • Your child is very uncomfortable.

Give your child an appropriate dose of acetaminophen or ibuprofen before giving him or her a sponge bath. Wait 30 minutes to see whether the medicine brings the child's fever below 104°F (40°C).

Give a sponge bath as follows:

  • 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

By Healthwise Staff
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised September 13, 2012

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