no-touch digital thermometer
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These Infrared Thermometers Can Check Temperatures Without Contact

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no-touch digital thermometer
Alex Liew/istockphoto

Keeping COVID-19 at a Distance

Are temperature checks using a no-touch infrared forehead thermometer one of the best ways to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus? Yes, say a growing number of businesses desperate to remain open or reopen amid the pandemic and keep their customers safe. Although body temperature checks may not be all that useful in detecting all persons who are sick, some health experts say, a non-contact digital thermometer can identify individuals who may be symptomatic. An infrared thermometer can also be a valuable addition to a home first-aid kit for general use, too. Pay attention when shopping: Some infrared thermometers must be placed directly against the forehead or in the ear canal in order to take a reading, meaning they should be disinfected between uses.

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Walmart
Walmart by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Where Can You Buy a No-Touch Forehead Thermometer?

As with other health and wellness products, demand for digital infrared thermometers has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic, making them hard to find in stores and online. But you can find them at some retailers. In general, Amazon and Walmart have the best prices and offer the biggest selection — though the thermometers they sell include many no-name models that look suspiciously alike. The selection at Target, Walgreens, and CVS is considerably less. In general, expect to pay at least $25 to $50, though you can pay as much as $100. These no-touch digital thermometers are some of the best, according to professional tests and consumer ratings. 

Note: Prices and availability are subject to change.

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Innovo Medical FR201
Walmart

Innovo Medical FR201

Price: $26 from Walmart
Buy It
This is one of the cheaper non-contact infrared thermometers you can find, which may explain why it's frequently sold out. Best Reviews gives it the thumbs-up in their thermometer comparison, praising its sleek design and fast readouts (just 1 second). It also stores the past 20 temperature readings so you can track a person's temperature over time, plus you can silence the alert tone so as not to wake a sleeping child.

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Mobi Non-Contact Forehead Thermometer
Walmart

Mobi Non-Contact Forehead Thermometer

Price: $45 from Walmart
Buy It
This infrared thermometer is a top seller at Walmart, and most buyers give it positive marks (including some business owners who say they use it to check employee and customer temperatures). Satisfied users say the thermometer is easy to operate and small enough that it can fit into a purse or small tote bag, although a few complain that the plastic housing feels cheap. It can store the past 50 temperature readings and comes with a 90-day warranty.

Related: These Are the Weird Ways Your Body Is Telling You to Go to the Doctor

iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer
Amazon

iHealth No-Touch Forehead Thermometer

Price: $50 from Amazon
Buy It
Amazon customers have made this no-touch thermometer a top seller, and it earns an average user score of 4.2 out of 5 from more than 3,000 buyers. Owners like the sleek design and one-touch operation. Many say the digital readout is easy to read, and they also like the fact that it vibrates once a temperature has registered. But as with many non-contact infrared thermometers, some owners complain that they have to take several readings in order to get an accurate idea of their temperature.

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Withings Thermo Smart Temporal Thermometer
Best Buy

Withings Thermo Smart Temporal Thermometer

Price: $99 from Best Buy
Buy It
This is by far the priciest thermometer in our roundup, but reviewers at CNet and elsewhere say it's money well spent. This Withings unit does double-duty as both a temporal thermometer — just swipe it across a person's forehead — and as a no-touch model. It also syncs with Withings Thermo app, compatible with both Apple and Android devices, allowing you to capture and track temperature data on up to eight people.

taking temperature with digital forehead thermometer
Alex Liew/istockphoto

The Right Way to Use an Infrared Thermometer

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers a few handy tips for using a no-touch digital thermometer to ensure a fast and accurate reading:

- In order to acclimate the device to the ambient temperature, place the thermometer in the room for at least 30 minutes.
- Avoid taking readings in bright sunlight or near an external heating or cooling device like a desk fan, which can affect results.
- Make sure the patient's forehead is clean, dry, and not obstructed by a hat, wrap, or other covering.
- When taking a temperature reading, hold the thermometer so that the temperature probe is perpendicular to the patient's forehead, typically a half inch to 2 inches away.
- Sanitize the thermometer thoroughly between uses. Most experts recommend using 70% ethyl alcohol, which can be found at any drugstore.
- Always follow the manufacturer's instructions.

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checking temperature with forehead thermometer outside of a hospital
mustafagull/istockphoto

Do I Really Need a No-Touch Thermometer?

Not if you just need a thermometer for personal or family use. However, if you need to check temperatures of a large number of people, a no-touch thermometer can be a safer means of doing so while maintaining social distancing guidelines. The drawback is that infrared, no-touch thermometers aren't very precise, something a number of owners note in their reviews, and you may have to take several readings, then average them in order to get the most precise temperature. That's not to say no-touch thermometers are inaccurate, however. As the experts at Healthline note: "All thermometers count as medical devices and therefore must pass certain federal standards. So really, no thermometer brand should be 'more accurate' than another, though a brand may have more or less consumer trust behind it."

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Vicks SpeedRead Digital Thermometer
Walmart

Vicks SpeedRead Digital Thermometer

Price: $10 from Walmart
Buy It
If all you need is a reliable, basic digital thermometer for the family first-aid kit, you can't go wrong with the Vicks brand. Both the SpeedRead thermometer and the slightly more expensive Vicks ComfortFlex Thermometer With Fever InSight get enthusiastic reviews from health care professionals and consumers, as well as from reliable testing sources like Wirecutter, Digital Trends, Healthline, and others. Unlike an infrared thermometer, these can be used orally, rectally, or under the arm. Temperature readings may take a little longer (about 8 seconds), but are highly accurate, testers say. Unfortunately, the ComfortFlex is sold out nearly everywhere, and the SpeedRead is hard to find in some stores.

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Braun ThermoScan Ear Thermometer
Target

Braun ThermoScan Ear Thermometer

Price: $43 from Target
Buy It
Pediatricians often recommend using an in-ear thermometer with children because they are less invasive than a rectal thermometer and easier to use on squirming kids than an oral version. Parents say the Braun's "pre-warmed" temperature probe is soothing for youngsters who don't like being poked and prodded with cold health implements. Readouts are quick and the digital display is legible, but some buyers say they wish it were backlit to make using it easier at night.

iProven DMT-489
Walmart

iProven DMT-489

Price: $60 from Walmart
Buy It
The hard-to-please experts at Wirecutter love this iProven thermometer and recommend it for its accuracy, speed, and ease of use. It takes both temporal (forehead) and in-ear readings, making it useful for adults and kids alike, and stores the last 20 readings. The biggest drawback, according to feedback, is that the iProven's alert beep (it lacks a silent mode) is annoyingly loud.

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Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer
Amazon

Exergen Temporal Artery Thermometer

Price: $65 from Amazon
Buy It
This isn't a non-contact model, but it is an infrared forehead thermometer, one that users say delivers fast, reliable results with just a gentle swipe across the head. It gets a thumbs-up from Healthline, New York magazine, and Best Reviews, and more than 3,400 Amazon buyers chime in with their own (mostly positive) feedback as well. Two potential drawbacks: Some owners say the digital readout is too small to read easily, while others wish the monitor would change colors to indicate abnormal temperatures the way other thermometers do.

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