Caring for a Child or Family Member Sick with Dengue

There is no medicine to treat dengue. Symptoms of dengue can be mild or severe. Mild symptoms can be treated at home.

Treat Mild Symptoms at Home

A woman sick in bed, a bottle of pain relievers, a bottle and drinking glass with water in them
  • Rest as much as possible
  • Control fever
    • Give acetaminophen (also known as paracetamol) to control fever and relieve pain. Always follow product label instructions. Do not give ibuprofen, aspirin, or aspirin-containing drugs.
    • Sponge the person’s skin with cool water to reduce fever.
  • Prevent dehydration – Dehydration occurs when a person loses too much body fluid from fever, vomiting, or not drinking enough liquids.

Signs of mild to moderate dehydration

Babies and Children Adults
Table showing signs of mild to moderate dehydration
Sleepiness, lack of energy, very fussy Not peeing very much, dark yellow pee
Sunken eyes Feeling dizzy, sleepy, no energy, confused, or irritable
Cool, discolored hands or feet Rapid heart rate, breathing
Urinates 1-2 times per day Sunken eyes
What to do: Talk to your healthcare provider. Provide fluids such a water, juice, milk, or drinks with added electrolytes.

Signs of severe dehydration

Babies and Children Adults
Table showing signs of severe dehydration
Urinates less frequently (less than 6 wet diapers per day) Thirst, dry or sticky mouth
Dry mouth, tongue, lips Not peeing very much, dark yellow pee
Few or no tears when crying Dry, cool skin
Sunken soft spot of the head Headache
What to do: Go to an urgent care clinic or the emergency room immediately.

As Fever Goes Away

Watch for warning signs

Although the fever has gone away, the next phase of dengue can be dangerous for some people. Warning signs generally begin in the 24-48 hours after the fever has gone away.

About 1 in 20 people with dengue will develop severe dengue. Severe dengue requires hospitalization and can be life threatening.

Doctor examining a sick boy

If you or a family member develop any of the following warning signs, go to an urgent care clinic or the emergency room immediately:

  • Stomach or belly pain, tenderness
  • Vomiting (at least 3 times in 24 hours)
  • Bleeding from the nose or gums
  • Vomiting blood, or blood in the stool
  • Feeling tired, restless, or irritable
  • Cold clammy skin
  • Difficulty breathing

Severe dengue is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention or hospitalization.

If You Have Dengue, Protect Others

During the first week of infection, dengue virus is found in the blood of an infected person. If a mosquito bites an infected person, the mosquito becomes infected. The infected mosquito can spread the virus to other people through bites. Avoid mosquito bites indoors to keep family from getting dengue.

  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Keep mosquitoes outside: Use screens on windows and doors.
  • Use air conditioning if available.
  • Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellent.

Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellentsexternal icon with one of the active ingredients below. Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

  • DEET
  • Picaridin (known as KBR 3023 and icaridin outside the US)
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Para-menthane-diol (PMD)
  • 2-undecanone

Find the right insect repellent for you by using EPA’s search toolexternal icon.