How Malaria Is Treated

Malaria, a parasitic infection, causes an illness that primarily affects red blood cells. The symptoms of malaria infection can be moderate, but serious consequences may occur.

Supportive home remedies such as staying hydrated and resting can help you stay comfortable as you recover. Prescription anti-malaria medication is the cornerstone of malaria treatment. In rare instances, specialized medical interventions may be necessary to manage some of the adverse complications.

The best treatment is prevention. Prevention of malaria includes prophylaxis, mosquito netting, and wearing protective clothing for people who are at risk, and the use of and mosquito abatement programs in areas of risk.

Malaria Prevention Tips
 Verywell / Emily Roberts

Home Remedies and Lifestyle

There are no home remedies that can cure malaria infection or prevent its harmful complications, but at-home management can help make you more comfortable while your infection is being treated with prescription medications.

These home remedies can also alleviate some of the common issues that occur with all types of infections, including some of the symptoms of malaria.

Make sure to:

  • Get enough fluid
  • Maintain adequate nutrition 
  • Stay at a comfortable temperature, drink warm or cool drinks or use warm blankets or ice packs if you feel cold or hot
  • Get enough rest

Note that while there may be local customs and traditions that can improve comfort with malaria infection, there are not effective lifestyle therapies that can cure the infection.

Over-the-Counter Medications

There are a few over-the-counter medications that can help alleviate some malaria symptoms, but they do not cure the infection or prevent complications.


  • Pain medication, as recommended by your healthcare provider
  • Anti-fever medication, as recommended by your healthcare provider

Note that for both of these options, you should consult your healthcare provider to ensure that they're safe to take. Many times, medications that mask a fever can cause you to miss an important sign that something isn't right.


There are a number of prescription medications that are used to treat the parasitic infection and a few prescriptions that may be used to control the symptoms of the illness. 

Anti-Malaria Medications 

The most common medications used to treat malaria infection are:

  • Chloroquine
  • Quinine
  • Primaquine
  • Doxycycline
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Mefloquine
  • Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACT)
  • Combination of atovaquone and proguanil
  • Intravenous (IV) artesunate (for severe malaria) 

One or more of these medications might be effective for you. Often, a combination of medications is used to prevent recurrence and to avoid persistent infections due to medication resistance.

Your healthcare provider will select the right medication for you based on several factors, including:

  • Which species of the malaria parasite you might have become infected with
  • The region where you acquired the infection
  • Whether you might have a resistant infection
  • Whether you may have a contraindication, allergy or sensitivity to any of the medications
  • Your clinical status
  • The severity of your disease

For example, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) have made several treatment recommendations based on the region in which malaria is acquired and the type of malaria species.

Some of these recommendations include:

  • According to the CDC, chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine are recommended for treatment of P. malariae, which is not associated with chloroquine resistance, a problem noted with some other malaria species.
  • The WHO recommends ACTs for treatment of uncomplicated malaria caused by the P. falciparum parasite.
  • According to the CDC, P. falciparum infections acquired in Central America west of the Panama Canal, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and most of the Middle East are not associated with chloroquine-resistant strains and can be treated with chloroquine.
  • According to the WHO, ACTs or chloroquine should be used to treat P. vivax infections in areas without chloroquine-resistant P. vivax.
  • Primaquine can be used for treatment of P. vivax and P. ovale malaria.

Prescriptions for Managing the Illness 

In addition to taking prescriptions that work against the parasite, you might need prescription medications to manage some of the symptoms of your illness, including nausea and pain. These may be prescribed or a specific recommendation may be provided by your healthcare provider.

Malaria Healthcare Provider Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next healthcare provider's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Doctor Discussion Guide Man


The most powerful tool against malaria is prevention. There are several strategies you can use:

  • Prophylaxis: If you live in an area where you could be exposed to malaria, or if you are traveling to an area where you could be exposed to malaria, you may need to take an antimalarial drug to protect you from the illness. 
  • Mosquito repellent: Sprays that work as mosquito repellents can help decrease the chances of becoming infected with the malaria parasite through a mosquito bite.
  • Physical protection: Wearing clothes that cover your body can deter mosquito bites. It is also often recommended to sleep under the protection of a mosquito tent if you are in an area where malaria-carrying mosquitos are expected to gather while you sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What treatment is usually recommended for malaria?

    Treatment depends on the location and the species of malaria. For example, artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is often recommended for P. falciparum, and chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine are recommended for treatment of P. malariae, and ACTs or chloroquine are used to treat P. vivax infections in areas without chloroquine-resistant P. vivax.

  • What is the outlook for recovery when you have malaria?

    Malaria is a serious illness that can lead to life-threatening complications. If you think you have malaria, it's important to seek medical care so treatment can be started immediately. With the right medication, malaria can often be successfully treated.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Malaria treatment (United States.

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Malaria diagnosis & treatment in the United States.

  3. World Health Organization. Overview of malaria treatment.

  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Choosing a drug to prevent malaria.

  5. World Health Organization. Treating malaria.

  6. Cleveland Clinic. Malaria.

Additional Reading

By Heidi Moawad, MD
Heidi Moawad is a neurologist and expert in the field of brain health and neurological disorders. Dr. Moawad regularly writes and edits health and career content for medical books and publications.