What Are the Side Effects to the Tuberculin Test?

Tuberculin is a purified protein derivative used to determine whether or not a person has been exposed to a tuberculin protein (the bacteria that causes tuberculosis). The test is administered to determine if the individual already has antibodies to the tuberculosis bacterium, either through previous injection or from environmental factors. As is the case with most bacterial tests, there are some side effects associated with use.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Common Side Effects

As mentioned, there are certain side effects associated with using this test. These include:

  • pain at the injection site
  • headache
  • nausea
  • rash
  • itching
  • fever
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • general feeling of illness
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

While these are considered the most common side effects associated with using this test, they affect only a small number of users.

Severe Side Effects

Unfortunately, there are also unlikely but possible severe side effects associated with taking this test. These side effects are very rare.

Important Safety Information

This test should not be administered if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as the chemicals present during the injection can have a negative effect on an unborn or newborn baby. Itching, irritation, and swelling at the site of injection is a normal reaction. If you are allergic to any type of food or medication, inform your doctor prior to the injection to determine if it is safe for you.


The tuberculin test is administered in injection form and should be performed by a medical professional in a medical setting 1. The test is injected into the forearm of the individual and will produce a wheel-like rash at the spot of injection. Once this has occurred, you will be asked to return to the doctor after 72 hours to determine the results. The results are determined according to the irritation present after the 72 hours has passed.


If you experience any of the above side effects, contact your doctor immediately.

If an overdose is suspected, contact the poison control center and head directly to the nearest emergency room.

The tuberculin test is meant to test for tuberculosis only and should never be used for any other medical purpose or without the consent of a doctor 1.