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What Is TB Skin Testing?

Written by: Dr. Muhammad Emran, MD

Medical Director, West Oaks Urgent Care Center

One of the most common tests for new employees (especially in healthcare) is the TB skin tests. Yet many of the patients we see are sometimes unfamiliar with what is and the importance of TB Skin testing. Our Medical Director (Dr. Emran) explore this topic and sheds some light into TB and TB skin testing.

Microscopic view of the TB Bacteria

Mycobacterium tuberculosis, commonly called TB, is a serious bacterial infection that kills thousands of people each year. TB is spread by breathing in the bacteria or direct contact with particles from infected patients. The infection spreads through the lungs and grows slowly over many years. Serious complications can cause brain damage, heart problems, and spinal infections that could require hospitalization

A TB skin test is required for most health care workers, high school students, and college students to screen for this disease. The TB skin test itself is painless and requires a tiny injection of PPD, purified protein derivative, into the forearm by a nurse. After the injection, the patient will return in 48 and 72 hours to have it read. The test becomes void after 72 hours if it has not been read by a nurse or doctor.

A positive reaction is measured in millimeters of induration such as a circular area that is palpable, raised, hardened, or swollen. The redness or bruising around the injection is not a concern.

There are a few categories of people in America who can not receive a TB skin test. These include infants, pregnant women, people with HIV, or anyone who has been vaccinated with BCG in a foreign country. People that have a positive TB skin test will always require chest x-rays in the future and cannot be skin tested in the future.

Any patient that has a positive TB skin test will be referred to a pulmologist, lung specialist, or the local health department for a chest x-ray.

You can review additional information about TB below and discuss questions with your doctor.

West Oaks Urgent Care offers TB skin testing 7 days a week.  No appointment needed, just walk in and ask for a test. If you have any questions about our TB skin testing please contact us at : (281)-496-4948

Reference: http://www.cdc.gov/tb/

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