Three-day fever is a harmless viral disease that most children between six months and two years get. The fever lasts for about three days. After that, the baby often gets a rash on the stomach and back. In addition to the fever, most children get so mild symptoms that the disease is barely noticeable.

Symptoms of three-day fever

The child first gets a fever, which rises rapidly. Sometimes up to 40 degrees. The fever lasts for about three days. Most children are otherwise well-nourished and eat and play as they usually do. For many, the disease is so mild that it is hardly noticeable at all. After three or four days, the fever can quickly subside.

Some children may have mild coughing and coughing. The lymph nodes in the neck can also become slightly swollen.

The fever is often followed by rashes

When the fever has disappeared, the baby often has a rash on the stomach, back, and neck. Sometimes they spread to the arms and legs. Children with light skin may have a pale red rash. The rash can be more difficult to see on dark skin. The rashes do not itch and they disappear in a few days. Sometimes they disappear after a few hours. Some children never get any rash.

When does the child need care?

Three-day fever usually passes by itself.

Seek care at a health care center or on-call reception for the child

  • is younger than three months and has a fever over 38 degrees
  • is between three and six months and has a fever over 39 degrees.

Seek care at a health care center or on-call reception of the child, regardless of age

  • has a fever over 41 degrees
  • cannot be contacted
  • is lethargic and does not want to eat or drink
  • is stiff in the neck
  • get a fever for the first time
  • have a fever and at the same time pain in the stomach or back.

Contact a health care center if the child develops a rash that does not go away after a few days or still has a fever after four days.

You can seek care at any healthcare center you want throughout the country. You also have the opportunity to have a regular doctor’s contact at the health center. 

So infects three-day fever

Three-day fever is caused by a very common and contagious virus. The vast majority are infected before the age of two. The infection spreads through drops in the air or through direct contact, for example when the child sneezes or holds another child in his hand.

It usually takes between 5 and 15 days from the time the baby is infected until the fever arrives.

Treatment of three-day fever

Three-day fever is not treated. The disease goes away by itself after a few days.

What can I do myself to help the child?

A child who has a fever needs to be at home to rest and recover. The child does not need to rest in bed, but should not exert himself physically. The best thing is to let the child decide how much they can handle.

Children with fever should drink frequently

A child who has a fever needs to drink more than usual, in order not to become dehydrated. Offer water, juice or juice. If the child has been drinking too little, the child may become tired, hungry and pee less than usual.

Sometimes children with a fever do not want to eat regular food. There is no danger if the child has a little reduced appetite for a few days. Offer something the child likes. For example ice cream, cream or scallion.

Make it comfortable for the child

It is common for children to shiver and freeze as the fever rises. They can also sweat. Try to tailor clothes and bedding to suit how warm your baby is. When the child has a high fever, it can be nice if it is cool, but not cold, in the room. You can remove blankets and quilts for short moments, or let your child sleep with a thin sheet instead of a quilt. It can also be nice for the baby if you bathe the skin with lukewarm water.

Provide medication for fever if needed

Fever is one of the body’s ways of defending and fighting infections. Therefore, do not treat a fever in a child who is otherwise well.

You can give non-prescription antidepressants if your child is very tired due to high fever.

  • You can give medicines containing paracetamol to children from three months of age. 
  • You can give medicines containing ibuprofen from the age of six months. 

The drugs are available in several different forms that are suitable for children, such as orodispersible tablets and solutions. Ask a pharmacy what is right for your child.

Follow the instructions on the package carefully and do not combine different medicines. Here you can read about combining paracetamol and ibuprofen. 

You can read more about medicine in the package leaflet that comes with the package. You can also lookup the drug at and read the package leaflet there.

Should the child stay at home?

Children who attend, for example, preschool or open preschool should stay at home until they have been fever-free for a day. When they return to childcare, they should be sufficiently stimulated to take part in group activities for a whole day.

More about three-day fever

The most common thing is that children get three-day fever when they are between six months and two years old. Almost all children of that age get infected but can have various severe symptoms.

Children under three months and over three years rarely get a three-day fever. Up to three months of age, infants have protection against the disease, through antibodies transferred from the mother.

A child can only get three-day fever once and then become immune.

Unusual complications

It happens that children get a  fever spasm when they have a three-day fever, but it is unusual. Most children never have a fever, even if the fever becomes high. It may look uncomfortable when the child gets seizures, but it is usually not harmful. When a child suffers from fever for the very first time, seek care directly at a health care center or emergency room. It should be done to rule out that the cramp has other causes.

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