Are forehead thermometers accurate? How to use a thermometer

Forehead thermometers are actually the next most accurate. If you can perform oral and ear temps then it will also give you the accurate result, but armpit temps are of the least accurate.

Fever – How to Take the Temperature

When Does Your Child Have a Fever?       

  • Rectal, Forehead or Ear temperature: 100.4° F (38.0° C) or higher
  • Oral (mouth) temperature: 100° F (37.8° C) or higher
  • Under the arm (armpit) temperature: 99° F (37.2° C) or higher

Caution: Ear temperatures don’t give you an accurate result before 6 months of age.

How to check the Temperature:

  • You can have the most accurate temps by rectal. And forehead temps are the next most accurate. If oral and ear temps are done correctly then it can also give accurate results. Armpit temps are the least accurate. You can test armpit temps at any age.
  • You can test armpit temps at under age 3 months old (90 days) safely. You must re-check it if it shows above 99° F (37.2° C). Reason: you must visit a doctor immediately when young babies have a fever. Forehead temps show the accurate temps also under age 3 months old according to the new research.
  • Rectal or forehead temps are accurate at the age of 3 months to 4 years old. Ear temps are accurate after 6 months old. Armpit temps are good when testing is done correctly.
  • It is safe to take oral temp at the age of 4 years and older. Ear and forehead temps are good as well.
  • You can find a digital (electronic) thermometer easily in stores. Its cost is also lower. You can use it for rectal, armpit, and oral temps. You can get an accurate temp within 10 seconds by most of them. You should own one of these temps in your house as suggested by the AAP instead of having the glass temps.

How to check Rectal Temperature:

  • Rectal temp can be taken at the age of 0-4 years old.
  • You can lie your kid’s stomach down on your lap or lay them on the back pulling legs up to the chest for this test.
  • You should apply some petroleum jelly to the end of the thermometer and the anus.
  • Push the thermometer slowly into the anus, not more than 1 inch. Push it not more than ½ inch if your kid aged less than 6 months old which means until the silvertip stops showing off.
  • You must be gentle while you perform this test. Stop immediately if you see any resistance.
  • You should hold your kid tightly then put a digital thermometer in until it beeps (10 seconds).
  • If the rectal temp shows above 100.4° F (38° C), it means your kid has a fever.
  • Warning: You should avoid taking rectal temp in case of the young kids having leukemia or other cancers, with the kids with weak immune systems such as organ transplant, HIV, or sickle cell disease as well.

How to check Armpit Temperature

  • You can take the armpit temp at any age.
  • You should place the thermometer tip in an armpit when the armpit is dry.
  • The armpit should be closed by holding the elbow against the chest until it beeps (about 10 seconds) and the thermometer tip should be covered by skin.
  • If the armpit temp shows above 99.0° F (37.2° C), it indicates that your kid has a fever. You can also take a rectum or forehead temp to clarify your doubts.

How to check Oral Temperature

  • Oral temp can be done at age 4 years or above.
  • Wait until 30 minutes if your kid just had a cold or hot drink.
  • Place the thermometer under one side of the tongue towards the back since it’s important to place the tip in the right position.
  • Tell your kid to hold the thermometer with his lips and fingers. Avoid using teeth for holding. Lips must be closed until it beeps (about 10 seconds).
  • When the temp goes above 100° F (37.8° C), it indicates that your kid has caught a fever.

How to check Digital Pacifier Temperature

  • Digital pacifier temp is good for screening at the age of 0-1 year. Your baby needs to suck on it which might be difficult sometimes.
  • Tell your kid to suck on the pacifier until it beeps (about 10 seconds).
  • When the pacifier temp goes above 100° F (37.8° C), you can be sure that your kid has a fever.

How to check Ear Temperature:

  • Ear temp is suitable for kids of age 6 months and above. It won’t be accurate before 6 months old.
  • The heatwaves of the eardrum are caught in this thermometer.
  • Pulling the ear backward ensures a correct temp. For over a 1-year-old baby, you can pull back and up the ear.
  • Make sure that the tip of the ear probe between the opposite eye and ear.
  • It takes less than 2 seconds and this is the reason why it is liked by the parents. The kid’s cooperation is not required here as it is very comfortable.
  • Caution: if your kid stays outside on a cold day then it will give a low reading. So, your kid is required to be inside for 15 minutes before testing the temp. It will give accurate reading despite earwax, ear infections, and ear tubes.

How to check Forehead (Temporal Artery) Temperature

  • Forehead temp is accurate at any age.
  • Heatwaves from the temporal artery are caught in this thermometer and this blood vessel runs across the forehead under the skin.
  • You should put the sensor head at the center of the forehead.
  • Just slide the thermometer gently across the forehead toward the top of the ear keeping in touch with the skin.
  • Stop it after reaching the hairline.
  • You can read your kid’s temp on the display screen.
  • Note: you don’t need to slide some newer forehead thermometers across the forehead. You just need to follow the box directions of taking temps.
  • This is used in most doctor’s offices in comparison to other thermometers.
  • It is preferable to parents as it takes less than 2 seconds. . Kid’s cooperation is not required here as it is very comfortable.
  • Caution: forehead temps should be digital as forehead strips are not correct.

Thermometers: Understand the options

You can have a variety of thermometers. You must learn about the types of thermometers and how you can select the right one for you.

Types of thermometers

Normally there are two kinds of thermometers such as touch and remote. Touch/contact thermometers should touch the body for taking the temp. On the contrary, remote/ no contact thermometers don’t require touching the skin for measuring body temp.

Contact thermometers

Electronic heat sensors are used in the most regular contact thermometers for measuring body temp. you can use these thermometers on the forehead, mouth, armpit, or rectum. A digital display is provided mostly with electronic thermometers for showing off the temperature reading. Rectal temperatures are the best for infants especially 3 months old or younger and the kids up to 3 years old too since it give you the most accurate reading. The temp measured from the armpit gives the least accurate reading. Oral readings are generally correct with the older kids and adults if the mouth is kept closed during the testing.

The pros:

  • Usually many electronic contact thermometers measure the body temp from forehead, mouth, armpit or rectum within 1 minute.
  • You can select an electronic contact thermometer for newborns, infants, children and adults.

The cons:

  • It can be a matter of worry for the parents to take a rectum temperature since it may cause discomfort for the baby. 
  • Wait until 15 minutes before taking an oral temperature if you have had a drink or eaten anything. If you don’t, you might not get the actual temp reading because of the effect of the food or drinks.
  • Taking an oral temp might be difficult to perform for the ones who breathe through the mouth as it is difficult for them to keep their mouth closed for a longer time to get the accurate temp reading.

You should take two thermometers and level one is for oral and the other is for rectal use if you wish to take an electronic contact thermometer for both the oral and rectal temp. you have to be careful about not using the same thermometer in both situations.

Remote thermometers

Visitors go to many schools, business and health care settings for fever testing. People can stay in distance while using a remote thermometer since it doesn’t need any skin touches. It is used on the forehead (temporal aretery) or the ear (Tympanic).

Temporal artery thermometers

An infrared scanner is provided with remote forehead for measuring the temp of the temporal artery in the forehead.

The pros:

  • You can record body temps quickly and comfortably with a remote temporal artery thermometer.
  • It is accurate for the child of any age.

The cons:

  • The temporal artery thermometers come in a costly price comparing to other thermometers.
  • It may be less accurate than other types. It’s reading might get affected by direct sunlight, cold temperatures or a sweaty forehead.
  • User’s techniques also affect the accuracy like the scanner is hold in distance from the forehead.

Tympanic thermometers

Remote ear thermometers apply an infrared ray for measuring the temp inside the ear canal which is also known as tympanic thermometers.

The pros:

  • Usually the infrared ear thermometers are faster and comfortable for both the children and adults if you place it correctly.
  • It is accurate for the infants of more than 6 months old, older kids and adults.

The cons:

  • You can’t use an infrared ear thermometers for newborns.
  • Taking temp correctly with an infrared ear thermometer can be hampered by earwax or a small, curved ear canal.

Mercury thermometers

You can get a mercury thermometer in most medical stores. A small quantity of mercury is enclosed in glass in a mercury thermometer for measuring body temp. if the mercury thermometer gets broken or damaged somehow, the mercury enclosed in the glass gets outside which is dangerous and difficult to escape. For this reason, it is no longer recommended for taking body temp. Avoid throwing away the mercury thermometer in the dustbin if you have any. You should contact the local trash collection program for checking a hazardous waste collection site in your area.

Things to know before buying the best smart Non-contact Body Infrared Thermometer

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