Do I Need Antibiotics for a Fever?

Fever is a raised body temperature, often due to illness. Skin that is red, hot, and dry, even under the armpits, is a sign of fever. Your temperature or your child’s temperature depends on where it is measured.

Management of Fever

  • Fever helps the body fight infection. Fever can happen with both viral and bacterial infections, so antibiotics may or may not be needed.
  • Consider using acetaminophen (like Tylenol) or ibuprofen (like Advil) if the person with the fever is uncomfortable. Ibuprofen should not be given to children under 6 months of age without first speaking to your health care provider. Please follow dosing instructions on the box or speak to a doctor or pharmacist for more information.
  • Dress yourself or your child in lightweight clothing so that you are cool but not shivering, as shivering generates more heat. Keep room temperature about 20° C or comfortably cool.
  • Drink plenty of cool fluids. Offer cool fluids or popsicles to your child every hour when awake.

If a person of any age has a fever and rash and has been in an area where measles is circulating, contact HealthLink BC (dial 8-1-1 in BC) to receive advice on the best course of action.

When to See a Doctor or Nurse Practitioner for a Fever

See a doctor or nurse practitioner if:

  1. A child under 3 months has a fever.
  2. A child of any age has a fever and seems unwell.
  3. A child of any age has a fever for more than 3 days.

In British Columbia, you can call HealthLink BC (at 8-1-1) or visit healthlinkbc.ca if you need advice or are unsure of the best course of action.

Speak to your primary health care provider if you are worried by the way your child is behaving. For more information on when to seek additional medical advice please see HealthLinkBC:

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