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The tuberculosis (TB) skin test can tell if you have TB bacteria in your body. Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that can damage the lungs or other parts of the body.
Many people are exposed to TB and test positive for TB bacteria in their bodies, but they don't get the disease. TB bacteria can stay in your body without making you sick. This is because your immune system can keep TB in check.
A doctor may want you to have this test if you have been in close contact with someone who has tuberculosis (TB). You may also have the test if you have symptoms that might be causing TB. These include a cough that doesn't go away and unexplained weight loss.
In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your healthcare provider asks you to.
For a tuberculin skin test, you sit down and turn the inner side of your forearm up. The skin where the test is done is cleaned and allowed to dry. A small shot of the tuberculosis antigen (purified protein derivative, or PPD) is put under the top layer of skin. The fluid makes a little bump (wheal) under the skin. A circle may be drawn around the test area with a pen.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call the clinic or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems.
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Adaptation Date: 8/3/2022
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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