ZocdocAnswersWhy do children get PPD skin tests?

Question

Why do children get PPD skin tests?

And how come adults don't? Do I need one? I'm 20.

Answer

The PPD skin test is a test used to see if someone has been exposed to tuberculosis. It does not say whether or not someone actually has tuberculosis, just whether or not they have come into contact with the bacteria at some point in their lives. The PPD skin test is not routinely done in the United states because the prevalence of tuberculosis is not that high. Thus, the vast majority of people have never been exposed to it. Thus, we only test certain groups of people that are at higher risk. In my experience, we do not routinely test children unless they have a specific risk factor. The only people we routinely test are those that work in the health care field, those that travel abroad such as the armed services personnel, and those with chronic medical conditions that make them more susceptible to the tuberculosis bacteria. I suggest that you schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. The two of you can discuss if a PPD test is necessary for you. If you are a frequent traveler abroad, work in the health care field, or if you have any major chronic medical conditions, then getting tested may be the right thing for you. I hope that answered your question.

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