Generic Name: tuberculin purified protein derivative (too-BER-kue-lin)
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Aug 14, 2020.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Diagnostic Agent, Tuberculin
Uses for tuberculin
Tuberculin purified protein derivative (PPD) is used in a skin test to help diagnose tuberculosis (TB) infection in persons at increased risk of developing active disease.
Tuberculin skin test is done by injecting tuberculin PPD into the surface layer of the skin. If the test is positive, a reaction will be seen at and around the place of injection or puncture. If the test is given using an injection, this reaction is usually a hard, raised area with clear margins. If the test is given using the puncture devices, the reaction is usually a swollen area at the puncture site. The size of the reaction is measured and recorded and the results of the test are studied after 48 to 72 hours.
Tuberculin is to be given only by or under the supervision of a doctor.
Before using tuberculin
In deciding to use a diagnostic test, any risks of the test must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. Also, other things may affect test results. For this test, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to tuberculin or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of tuberculin injection in children.
Although appropriate studies on the relationship of age to the effects of tuberculin injection have not been performed in the geriatric population, no geriatric-specific problems have been documented to date.
Studies in women suggest that this medication poses minimal risk to the infant when used during breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of this diagnostic test. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Extensive skin burns or eczema (skin disease) or
- Tuberculosis, active or history of—Should not be given to patients with these conditions.
- HIV infection or AIDS or
- Organ transplant, history of or
- Weak immune system—May increase your risk of developing active tuberculosis.
Proper use of tuberculin
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you tuberculin in a hospital or clinic. Tuberculin is injected into the skin on your forearm.
Your skin may become red and swollen in the area where the medicine was given.
You must return to your doctor's office 2 or 3 days after receiving tuberculin. This is to check at the way your skin has reacted to the medicine.
Precautions while using tuberculin
Tuberculin may cause serious types of allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, trouble breathing, trouble swallowing, or any swelling of your hands, face, or mouth after receiving tuberculin.
Fainting may occur after receiving this test. It may occur with other symptoms including: lightheadedness, muscle weakness, or seizures.
False positive or negative tuberculin skin test reaction may occur in some patients. This may occur if you have received a vaccine against tuberculosis (eg, BCG) or if you have been exposed to other mycobacteria.
Make sure your doctor knows if you are using a medicine that weakens your immune system, such as a steroid or cancer treatment.
Tuberculin skin test should not be given within 1 month to patients who have received live vaccines. These vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella, oral polio, yellow fever, and varicella.
Tuberculin side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Incidence not known
- Bleeding at the injection site (occurring up to 3 days after the skin test)
- blistering, crusting, or scabbing at the injection site
- deep, dark purple bruise at the injection site (occurring up to 3 days after the skin test)
- difficult or labored breathing
- fast heartbeat
- hard lump at the injection site
- itching, pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site
- large, hive-like swelling on the face, eyelids, lips, tongue, throat, hands, legs, feet, or sex organs
- noisy breathing
- puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
- scar at the injection site
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
Incidence not known
- Pain, discomfort, or itching at the injection site
- redness or rash at the injection site (occurring within 12 hours after skin test)
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.