One of the things we nurses have to go through every six months or yearly (depending on the rules where you work) is getting a TB skin test. And, as a nurse, you'll be learning to administer this test to others as well. If your test turns out to be positive it only indicates that at some point in your lifetime some TB bacteria did enter your body. That's all this test measures. It doesn't mean that you have TB. To determine if someone has TB other tests are done. The TB skin test is a cheap screening test is all. If your skin test happens to turn out positive you will be asked to get a chest x-ray to rule out that there is any TB in your lungs. From then on you will be told to say you are a positive reactor to the PPD, or Mantoux, skin test. That means that you should never get another TB skin test because you know it is going to indicate positive results. However, you will probably need to have yearly chest x-rays in place of the skin test if yearly TB screening is required where you end up working.
It is highly unlikely to have TB in today's world even if you have been around someone who has it. The people who have TB these days are drug addicts and those who are HIV+ who were unfortunate enough to pick it up--people whose health and immune systems are in a poor or compromised state. If you are a healthy person with a healthy immune system, the likelihood of contracting TB, even if you have been exposed to it, is pretty minimal. The prophylactic treatment for TB is a course of various medications taken over the span of a year's period of time if it even gets to that point. The lab tests to prove the presence of TB take several weeks to confirm the disease.
- about the TB skin test. Includes information on what is done if the test is positive.
- Tuberculosis Skin Test (PPD Skin Test) on Medicine Net
- definition of the TB skin test
- a picture of how the test is given
- what a positive skin test looks like