How to Use Temporal Thermometer: Here are Easy Steps to Guide You

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Do you remember the thermometer used on us by our moms to measure how high was the temperature of our fever? Well, those old glass thermometers are no longer available in the market. They have been phased out because of the high risk of chemical exposure.

Fever is very common among kids. It serves as a clear indicator that the body works to fight off infection. No matter how common fever is, I am still constantly worried each time my child is sick.


Nonetheless, in the process of making sure my child overcomes his sickness, I realized the importance of monitoring his body temperature. When we cover our kids with layers of blankets or clothes, their body temperature increases and may lead to fever-like symptoms. Hence, the importance of taking our child’s temperature cannot be ignored.

A temperature reading is the most reliable approach to determine the presence of fever. One of the thermometers used in taking the temperature is the temporal thermometer. If this is the first time you have encountered this type of apparatus, read on to learn the easy steps on how to use the temporal thermometer.

What is Temporal Thermometer?

One of the basic indicators of a child’s health is his body temperature. Having a fast and accurate thermometer is vital for capturing the temperature reading. The temporal thermometer, otherwise known as forehead thermometer or classified as an infrared thermometer, provides a quick and non-invasive temperature reading.

Temporal thermometers are criticized for being difficult to use, but once you get the hang of swiping and reading technique, temporal thermometers are so safe that they can even be used on a sleeping baby.


The temporal scanner or the temporal artery thermometer offers an advanced way of measuring temperature. Because it is non-invasive, taking the temperature of your child is completed with speed, accuracy, precision, and comfort. The temporal thermometer is as precise and accurate as the rectal, pulmonary artery, and esophageal thermistor temperature.

According to Mayo Clinic, temporal thermometers can be used on babies from age three months and up. On the other hand, emerging research claims temporal thermometers can also offer accurate results when used on newborns. Regardless, poor handling of this type of thermometer may render inaccurate results.

Why Take the Temperature on the Temporal Artery?

Our temporal artery (the major blood vessel in the head that causes a migraine when it enlarges) has a direct connection to the heart through the carotid artery (the blood vessel responsible for supplying the neck, face, and brain with oxygenated blood).

The temporal artery is one of the most preferred sites in taking accurate temperature readings because blood constantly flows in this blood vessel. Moreover, the temporal or forehead area is the safest, most comfortable, and most convenient site to measure temperature.

Facts about the Temporal Artery

Do you know that the temporal artery is considered a “special” blood vessel? Why? That’s because the temporal artery is the only exposed blood vessel on the surface of the skin that maintains a constant flow of blood needed for a noninvasive, accurate temperature reading at the skin. There is no other area of the skin that has this feature and no other area on the skin can provide accurate temperatures. 

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The temporal artery is best viewed using a high-resolution infrared camera. The location of the temporal artery varies for each individual that is why lateral scanning is needed to ensure the correct location and achieve an accurate temperature measurement.

How Accurate is the Temporal Thermometer?


There are different ways of reading temperatures depending on the thermometer apparatus you are using. In the case of a temporal thermometer, the average temperature is 0.5°F or 0.3°C to 1°F or 0.6°C lower compared to an oral temperature, which is 98.6°F or 37°C.

The temperature you read on the thermal artery thermometer is the most accurate of all temperature readings because the blood that is supplied to this blood vessel comes directly from the heart. When your baby has a fever, the TemporalScanner indicates this much quicker compared to rectal.

In a Harvard Medical School research conducted on babies, it has been proven that temporal thermometer is more accurate compared to an ear thermometer. In multiple hospital research studies conducted in the past, it was found that temporal thermometer was more accurate than a rectal thermometer.

Pros and Cons of the Temporal Thermometer?

The temporal thermometer or the temporal artery thermometer uses the most innovative infrared technology to generate precise temperature readings. This is achieved by aligning the thermometer at the temporal or forehead area and sliding it to the side.

This non-invasive type of thermometer reads the temperature through the infrared waves released by the temporal artery. The artery runs below the skin surface of the forehead.


Accurate and fast temperature reading results

Convenient to use

Easy to read


No ongoing costs




Questionable use on newborns

How to Use the Temporal Thermometer

Temporal thermometers are pretty easy. Before using this thermometer, it would be helpful to acquaint yourself with the different parts of the product.

Step 1: Press the button

  • Locate the center of the forehead.
  • Position the probe at the center.
  • Depress the button of the thermometer.

Step 2: Slide and scan the forehead

  • Slide the thermometer across the forehead going to the hairline.
  • Avoid curving the thermometer as you will lose track of the temporal artery.
  • Reach the perfume spot or the depression behind the ear.

Step 3: Record

  • Release the thermometer’s button.
  • Read the temperature.

Here is a video that shows how to use the temporal thermometer: 

Why Scan in a Straight Line?

If you scan in a straight line, you will never lose track of the location of the temporal artery, which comes up the lateral part of the face from the carotids. This blood vessel can go deep, thus making it challenging to take an accurate measurement sometimes.

But don’t worry. We are not targeting the deep temporal artery. We are aiming to hit the superficial temporal artery, which is located in the forehead, approximately 2 mm underneath the skin, trapped between the skull and the forehead’s skin.

Why Reach the Perfume Spot?

It is important to reach and touch the perfume spot to guarantee an accurate reading, especially when your child is sweaty. If the forehead is soaking wet, the impact of evaporative cooling will lead to a low reading.

When the child is sweating, the very last area to sweat is the neck and the area behind the earlobe will outweigh the impact of evaporative cooling. If your child is sweaty all over, avoid taking the temperature for 10 minutes or put a film strip on the temporal artery and scan over to get the temperature.

What You Need to Know

It is important for you to be aware of the following to avoid anxiety or confusions.

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When the temperature reading is too high, it is most likely that -

  • The area you are trying to measure is not completely exposed
  • You are comparing the result of your temperature reading to an oral temperature

When the temperature reading is too low, the likely possibilities are -

  • The lens is dirty
  • The direction of your thermometer is curving down
  • ​The child is sweaty
  • ​Multiple temperature reading is recorded in rapid succession on the same child

What to Avoid

When taking the temperature, avoid the following.

Taking multiple temperature readings in rapid succession. Here’s why:

  • The cold probe of the thermometer cools the surface of the skin, and in taking the temperature, the skin is part of the process
  • Wait for at least 30 seconds before you take the next temperature reading on the same child.

Relying on touch to determine fever. Here’s why:

  • Our hands are never good indicators of fever. Rather, our hands are very subjective and will simply rely on the temperature difference that exists between our child and hand. 
  • Palpation is 98% accurate if the child has no fever. But when the child is sick, palpation is not a reliable way of gauging whether there is fever or none. With fever, palpation is more than 50% inaccurate.

What if the Forehead is Inaccessible?

If you cannot access the forehead, try taking the temperature on the following alternative sites.

Behind the earlobe

  • If there are bandages on the forehead because of a head trauma, touch the neck that is located behind the earlobe.
  • If the area behind the earlobe is covered, scan the other areas of the neck that are accessible.

Femoral artery (the artery near the groin)

  • The femoral artery has been recognized as a site for taking temperature readings.
  • Take the temperature by scanning the area along the crease of the groin.

Thoracic artery (the artery that passes along the side of the ribs)

  • When scanning along this area, make a zigzag pattern from the axilla to the nipple and the waist and back to the nipple level.

How to Clean After Use


The temporal thermometer must be cleaned every two weeks. Use a Q-tip with alcohol to clean the lens situated at the center of the probe. You may also use wipes but not bleach-based solutions because bleach can etch the lens, thus causing low readings. Finally, the casing must be cleaned using any disinfectant.


When your child has a fever, make it a priority to determine the temperature. The best way to do this is to use an apparatus, such as the temporal thermometer, that renders accurate temperature readings. When using the temporal thermometer, follow the instructions enumerated in this article and avoid doing things that can produce inaccurate results.

What thermometer do you use to record the body temperature of your child and why? Please feel free to give your insights. If you find this article helpful, don’t forget to share this with your friends and family.

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