Skip to content

    First Aid & Emergencies

    Font Size

    Body Temperature

    How It Is Done continued...

    Do not use a thermometer to take an oral temperature after it has been used to take a rectal temperature.

    How to take an armpit (axillary) temperature

    Taking a temperature in the armpit may not be as accurate as taking an oral or rectal temperature.

    1. Place the thermometer under the arm with the bulb in the center of the armpit.
    2. Press the arm against the body, and leave the thermometer in place for the required amount of time. Time yourself with a watch or clock.
    3. Remove the thermometer and read it. An armpit temperature reading may be as much as 1°F (0.6°C) lower than an oral temperature reading.
    4. Clean a digital thermometer with cool, soapy water and rinse it off before you put it away.

    How to take an ear (tympanic) temperature

    Ear thermometers may need to be cleaned before they are used.

    1. Check that the probe is clean and free of debris. If dirty, wipe it gently with a clean cloth. Do not put the thermometer underwater.
    2. To keep the probe clean, use a disposable probe cover. Use a new cover each time you take an ear temperature.
    3. Turn on the thermometer.
    4. For babies younger than 12 months, gently pull the earlobe down and back. For children older than 12 months and for adults, pull the earlobe up and back. This will help you place the probe in the ear canal.
    5. Center the probe tip in the ear, and push gently inward toward the eardrum. Do not force it in.
    6. Press the "on" button to display the temperature reading.
    7. Remove the thermometer, and throw away the used cover.

    How to take a temporal artery temperature

    1. Remove the cap over the cup part of the thermometer, if it has a cap.
    2. Turn on the thermometer.
    3. Place the thermometer cup on the skin in the center of the forehead. Make sure nothing is between the thermometer cup and the skin.
    4. Press the button for making a measurement.
    5. Slide the thermometer across the forehead to one side (not up or down).
    6. Listen for a sound. Most of these thermometers make a beep or other sound when they are ready to read.
    7. Remove the thermometer from the forehead, and read the temperature.

    How to take a forehead temperature

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: May 22, 2015
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

    First Aid A-Z

    • There are no topics that begin with 'O'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'Q'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'U'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'X'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'Y'
    • There are no topics that begin with 'Z'

    Today on WebMD

    blue flames
    The right way to treat them.
    Wound paste into a cross
    8 essentials for car or purse.
    cpr demonstration
    4 steps for adults.
    bagged salad
    Learn when to call a doctor.
    sniffling child
    wound care true or false
    caring for wounds
    Harvest mite

    Pollen counts, treatment tips, and more.

    It's nothing to sneeze at.

    Loading ...

    Sending your email...

    This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.


    Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

    WebMD the app

    Get first aid information. Whenever. Wherever... with your iPhone, iPad or Android.

    Find Out More