Paracetamol or ibuprofen?

Both paracetamol and ibuprofen are effective in treating pain or fever.

But which one might be right for your little one?

What are paracetamol and ibuprofen?

Paracetamol and ibuprofen are the active drugs in medicines like CALPOL® Infant Suspension and CALPOL® SIXPLUS™ Suspension – which contain paracetamol – and CALPROFEN® Ibuprofen Suspension – which is an ibuprofen-only medicine.

Paracetamol was first created in the 19th century and has been used to treat mild to moderate pain and fever for generations.

Ibuprofen is a more recent discovery, first made available to the public in 1969. Ibuprofen is also effective in the treatment of pain and fever.

In England, products containing paracetamol or ibuprofen are available to buy without a prescription from a GP.

Why choose paracetamol?

As a painkiller, paracetamol is thought to block the production of certain substances in your body when you are ill or hurt to make your body block the pain signals to your brain.

Paracetamol can be used to treat a wide range of common childhood ailments including:

Products from the CALPOL® Family with paracetamol in them are gentle on your baby’s tummy, and you can use CALPOL® Infant Suspension from as young as 2 months (weighing over 4kg and not premature).

Why choose ibuprofen?

Ibuprofen is a different sort of drug from paracetamol. When someone is unwell their body may produce certain chemicals which cause inflammation and pain. Ibuprofen can block the production of those chemicals to help reduce pain and is also an anti-inflammatory drug.

You can use it to treat illnesses such as:

You’ll find ibuprofen in CALPROFEN® Ibuprofen Suspension, which gets to work on fever in 15 minutes and works for up to 8 hours.. You can use CALPROFEN® Ibuprofen Suspension from 3 months (weighing over 5kg).

For more information on paracetamol or ibuprofen please seek advice from your GP or qualified healthcare professional.


See also

Treatment advice

"My son has a high temperature, what should I do?"

When your child suffers from a fever, it can be a sign that his body is fighting an infection. We've put together a helpful fact sheet of things to do and what symptoms to look out for.

How to care for an infant with fever