Anti-inflammatory medicines and COVID-19 - advice for parents and carers

Experts at RCPCH recommend that parents treat symptoms of fever or pain related to COVID-19 with either paracetamol or ibuprofen.

The Commission on Human Medicines’ Expert Working Group on coronavirus (COVID-19) has concluded that there is currently insufficient evidence to establish a link between use of ibuprofen, or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and contracting or worsening of COVID-19.

Catrin Barker, Chair of the RCPCH Medicines Committee and Chief Pharmacist at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, says:

Our advice to parents is that either paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used to treat their child if they have symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever and headache, and should follow NHS advice if they have any questions or if symptoms get worse. Parents should always read the patient information when taking over-the-counter medicines, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol, and follow the instructions on how to take the medicines.

To manage symptoms of fever:

  • Keep your child well hydrated – give plenty of fluids to drink.
  • Tepid sponging is not recommended.
  • Children with fever should not be under-dressed or over-wrapped.

Use of medicines:

  • Parents can give either paracetamol or ibuprofen, if needed, to treat symptoms of fever or pain unless your doctor has told you paracetamol or ibuprofen is not suitable for your child.
  • Continue to give either paracetamol or ibuprofen only for as long as the child appears distressed due to the high temperature.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging for the appropriate dose for your child’s age.
  • If you continue to be worried about your child’s health, consider seeking advice through NHS 111.

This guidance was updated on 15 April 2020, and replaces the guidance on 23 March 2020. This position will be kept under constant review.