Zocdoc Answers

Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Should one check their temperature under their arm?"

ZocdocAnswersShould one check their temperature under their arm?


Should we check our child's body temperature by measuring under the arm? This is how my mother used to do it for me, but it seems like everybody now does under-the-tongue measurement. This seems like a really important difference, because it could be the difference between 'fever' and 'fine'.


Checking the temperature of a child's body is an important job that parents perform, but often there are many questions about how to do it properly. Your pediatrician would be qualified to discuss this issue with you in greater detail. A child's temperature can be checked in several different ways. The most common are in the rectum, under the tongue, or in the armpit. Using a different kind of thermometer, it is also possible to check the temperature in the ear canal. Many parents prefer to check the temperature in the armpit. One reason for this is that it is less invasive, and it is less likely to upset the child or to require the child to be very cooperative. The temperature in the armpit is usually a bit lower than rectal or oral temperatures. Therefore some older books will advise you to add a degree to the temperature if you take it in the armpit. A better approach, however, is simply to record the number you get and then to tell your pediatrician where you took the temperature. As always, the diagnosis and the management of your child's specific condition would require a physical examination by your personal physician. If your child is ill, they should be taken to see your pediatrician.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.