Temporal artery thermometers

Temporal artery thermometers use an infrared scanner to measure the temperature of the temporal artery in the forehead.

  • Pros. Temporal artery thermometers can record a person's temperature quickly and are easily tolerated. Temporal artery thermometers are appropriate for infants older than age 3 months and older children. New research suggests that a temporal artery thermometer also might provide accurate readings for a newborn.
  • Cons. A temporal artery thermometer may be more expensive than other types of thermometers.

Temperature strips

Temperature strips contain liquid crystals that react to heat. Simply apply a temperature strip to the forehead, and the strip will register body temperature by changing color.

  • Pros. Temperature strips are easy to use.
  • Cons. Temperature strips aren't precise. The temperature of a person's surroundings can affect the recorded temperature. If you need an exact temperature reading, use a digital thermometer instead.

Mercury thermometers

Once a staple in most medicine cabinets, mercury thermometers use mercury encased in glass to measure body temperature. Mercury thermometers can record temperatures from the mouth, armpit or rectum — but they're no longer recommended because they can break and allow mercury to vaporize and be inhaled. If you have a mercury thermometer, consider replacing it. But don't throw a mercury thermometer in the trash. Contact your local trash collection program to see if there's a hazardous waste site in your area.

Oct. 23, 2012 See more In-depth