Myths on the Matter: Infrared Thermometers

March 1, 2021

Myths on the Matter: Infrared Thermometers

The popularity of infrared thermometers continues to increase, especially for children and mass screening situations. Offering protection for both parties, these thermometers help prevent the spread germs or viruses by allowing the user to check the patient’s temperature from a safe distance. Due to the complexity behind the thermometers, however, many people still have their reservations. Take a deep breath, because we’re about to bring you some peace of mind.

Myth: Infrared thermometers are not always accurate.

Infrared (IR) thermometers, when used correctly, are just as accurate as oral or rectal thermometers.1 IR thermometers are non-contact, which allows the user to maintain a safe distance from the patient. They are designed to use on humans, and most of them have different modes that allow the user to switch between a person’s surface-level temperature and body core temperature for precision. In a recent study with over 400 patients, the mean temperature difference between an IR thermometer and rectal thermometer was far less than 1%.1 As long as they’re used accurately, infrared thermometers are a reliable option for temperature measurement.

Myth: Infrared thermometers emit radiation.

Despite their intimidating red laser, infrared thermometers do not emit radiation. Their primary job is to soak up wavelengths—not send them out.2 The infrared thermometer molecules first catch light waves emitted by the body, and then internally convert those waves into a temperature. The molecules detect your temperature by interacting with your body heat, and their rapid movement gives off a red or white color.3 Because this light absorbs energy, the temperature-taking process is not dangerous to the human brain.

Myth: Infrared thermometers aren’t safe.

Many people wonder if infrared thermometers are safe to use on humans, and the answer is yes. The optional laser pointer is only used to provide guidance and help you target the correct spot. The devices do not output any energy, making them completely nontoxic.4

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