Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Children's Health

Font Size

Fever: If You Feel It, It's Probably There

WebMD Health News

May 16, 2001 -- When their child is sick, many parents don't immediately reach for a thermometer. Instead, more than half use their hand to feel some part of their child's body to determine whether or not they have a fever.

Just about every mom or dad has their own method for detecting fever -- whether using the back of the hand to touch the forehead or the fingertips to touch the neck -- but no studies have looked at which method, if any, is the most accurate. Until now.

Touching a child's forehead or neck with the back of the hand detected all fevers greater than 102°F and nearly all temperatures above 101°F, says Philip O. Ozuah, MD, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Children's Hospital at Montefiore, both in New York City.

Ozuah presented his study findings at the recent Pediatric Academic Societies' annual meeting in Baltimore.

These findings suggest that if a child feels warm to the touch on the forehead or neck, the parent can respond to that as they would if a thermometer had been used to take the child's temperature.

"Don't dismiss the fact that they feel warm," he tells WebMD. "If your child feels warm, do what you would ordinarily do," he says.

Still, Ozuah says, "If you have a thermometer and know how to use it, use it."

Overall, the study of more than 800 children found that using the back of the hand was more sensitive than using the front of the hand in detecting fever. For temperatures greater than 100.4°F, the forehead and neck were the most sensitive locations to measure for fever.

Though 98.6°F is considered the normal core body temperature, this value varies between individuals and throughout the day. Body temperature, especially in children, is normally raised by physical activity, strong emotion, eating, heavy clothing, elevated room temperature, and elevated humidity. A rectal temperature up to 100.4°F may be entirely normal, but a rectal temperature of 100.5°F or above should be considered a fever.

Today on WebMD

child with red rash on cheeks
What’s that rash?
plate of fruit and veggies
How healthy is your child’s diet?
smiling baby
Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
Middle school band practice
Understanding your child’s changing body.

worried kid
jennifer aniston
Measles virus
sick child

Child with adhd
rl with friends
Syringes and graph illustration