Tuberculosis (TB) Skin Testing (Mantoux/PPD)

Tuberculosis (TB)

TB is a disease caused by germs that mostly affect the lungs. You may have TB germs in your body because you spent time at home, work, school or other place with someone who is sick with TB. The TB germs are spread by coughing.

Common Symptoms of TB

  • Cough lasting many weeks
  • Fatigue
  • Fevers
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating at night
  • Weight loss

Treatment of TB

TB treatment involves many medications that are designed to kill the TB germs.

Prevention of TB

  1. Skin testing for people who are at high risk of catching TB (healthcare personnel, emergency responders), or who have traveled to countries with high TB rates, or people immigrating from high risk countries, etc.
  2. Making sure people with symptoms get seen and screened by a qualified medical practitioner
  3. Making sure that people diagnosed with TB get the right treatment and adhere to their treatment plan

TB Skin Testing (Also Known as Mantoux or PPD)

TB skin testing is done by a qualified health person by injecting a small amount of serum under the skin. If there are TB germs in a person's body, the serum reacts with those TB germs and that causes a bump on the skin. The serum cannot cause TB. After the test is "planted" it must be "read" between 48 and 72 hours by a qualified health person. This means that a TB test requires 2 appointments.

Some people will develop a small bump, but that does not necessarily mean that person has TB! Some people will also develop a rash or itching at the site. Again, that does not mean the test is positive!

The Westford Health Department provides TB skin testing for Town residents at our Millennium clinic. Two appointments need to be scheduled and can be done by calling 978-692-5509. Usually, appointments are made on Mondays or Wednesdays, so try to have some dates available when you call.

There is a $15 fee paid by cash or by a check made out to "Town of Westford."

Key Information About Your TB Skin Test

  1. The testing solution/serum (Tubersol) is placed just under the top layer of your skin.
  2. A small bump (similar to a mosquito bite) appears when the serum is injected. This bump may disappear almost immediately or it may linger for a while.
  3. There may be some slight oozing of blood from the site, but avoid using a bandaid. (Some people develop rashes from the bandaid tape which can then interfere with the test.) Apply pressure with a dry piece of gauze instead.
  4. Occasionally, there can be some itching at the site, but try to avoid scratching! DO not use any creams on the site (including Benadryl or Cortisone) since they will interfere with the results of your test.
  5. You CAN apply a cold compress to the area to alleviate the itching.
  6. You CAN bathe and swim but AVOID applying sun lotion to the site of your test.
  7. Some people experience some redness, rash, slight bruising or a small bump at the site. DO not WORRY! These reactions are common and do not necessarily mean you have a positive test.
  8. On a rare occasion, some people are very sensitive to the solution and develop a severe skin reaction. Contact us or your health care provider if you have any questions.