We conducted a thermovisual comparison of mean hand surface temperature changes upon local heating with two different IR sources. Sixty-six patients with rheumatoid arthritis (47 women and 19 men; average age, 56.1 ± 8.6 years) were subjected to topical heat therapy for one hand with either the standard IR radiator (SIR) or the water filter IRA (wIRA). The surface temperature of the dorsal side of both hands was measured, and thermal images were taken before and up to 2 h after treatment. At 1 min after treatment, SIR application increased the surface skin temperature of the heated hand from 31.5 ± 1.9 to 35.0 ± 1.9 °C (P<0.05), while wIRA increased it from 32.1 ± 1.6 to 34.2 ± 1.1 °C (P<0.05). Constant decline in temperature was observed immediately after treatment, with the temperatures reaching baseline in about 30 and 120 min after wIRA and SIR treatment, respectively. Similar temperature changes were observed in the heated hands for wIRA and SIR, except at 1 min after treatment. Changes in the untreated hands indicated contralateral reaction. The temperature of the warmed hand showed a correlation to the body mass index.