A brief report on the normal range of forehead temperature as determined by noncontact, handheld, infrared thermometer

Am J Infect Control. 2005 May;33(4):227-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2005.01.003.


Background: Noncontact forehead temperature measurement by handheld infrared thermometer was used as a screening tool for fever. However, the accuracy data and normal range of forehead temperature determined by this method were not available.

Methods: The temperature readings from 3 handheld infrared thermometers were validated against an electronic thermometer. Normal range of forehead temperature was determined by measuring the forehead temperature in 1000 apparently healthy subjects.

Results: Significant differences were detected in readings obtained by the 3 different handheld infrared thermometers (analysis of covariance, P < .001) The most accurate one was chosen, and the normal range of forehead temperature in 1000 subjects detected by this method was 31.0 degrees C to 35.6 degrees C.

Conclusions: Our study shows that commercially available, handheld infrared thermometers require individual validation. Forehead temperature in excess of 35.6 degrees C is suggestive of fever. Further studies are required to confirm accuracy of this value in detecting fever.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Temperature*
  • Female
  • Forehead
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values
  • Thermometers*