If you suspect that you have tuberculosis (TB), or think you may have been exposed to someone who has it, you may want to get a TB skin test. This test can help you understand your risk of TB, or let you know if you might have it. They are easy to get and you can usually get results in a couple of days.
Why a Skin Test Is Needed
Tuberculosis is a disease that is spreading. About a third of the population in the world is carrying the TB bacterium, but it is not active in most of them. The problem is that it could become active at any time. It will become active in about 10 percent of people who carry it.
Another reason a test is a good idea is that some of the bacteria going around now is a drug-resistant form. This means that the standard antibiotics normally used for TB no longer work. Newer and much more expensive antibiotics are needed, and it takes about eight months of treatment to cure it. It is painful, and only about half the patients live.
TB Is Contagious
Tuberculosis is a disease that is airborne. This means that a person with TB does not actually need to touch you to infect you. Just being in the room with that person means you could get infected. Those who have the active version of TB should wear a mask. People with TB are often quarantined – especially if they have the drug-resistant form.
How the TB Skin Test Works
When you are given the skin test, which is also called the Mantoux tuberculin skin test (TST), a small amount of fluid is injected into your forearm. This fluid contains some tuberculin, which contains a tiny bit of protein from the tuberculosis bacteria.
The fluid from the injection is placed just under the skin. When it is injected correctly, it will form a bubble of fluid on top of the skin.
After the injection, the patient goes home and then returns to the doctor’s office between 48 to 72 hours later. Medical staff will then look at the bump to determine if a reaction has taken place. The size of the bump is what determines whether there is a positive or negative result. It is negative if it is less than 5 mm, and it is considered positive if it is larger than 5 mm.
Further TB Testing
A positive result will mean that you will be asked questions about your medical history and possible exposure to someone with TB. On occasion, the test does result in false positives. Other tests are likely to be given as well, and these may include x-rays, blood tests, and a sputum test.
The Silver Star Urgent Care clinic provides a TB skin test to patients who request it, or in cases where it may be suspected. Walk-ins are welcome, and we stay open late to help you. Our hours are from 8:00 am until 8:00 pm seven days a week. Our doctors are all Board-certified and they care about their patients.