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Alternative Names Return to topLeprosy skin test
Definition Return to top
The lepromin skin test is used to determine what type of leprosy a person has. It involves the injection of a standardized extract of inactivated leprosy-causing bacteria under the skin.
How the Test is Performed Return to top
An extract sample of inactivated leprosy-causing bacteria is injected just under the skin, usually on the forearm, so that a small lump pushes the skin up. The lump indicates that the antigen has been injected at the correct depth.
The injection site is labeled and examined 3 days and 28 days later to see if there is a reaction.
How to Prepare for the Test Return to top
People with dermatitis or other skin irritations should have the test performed on an unaffected part of the body.
If your child is to have this test performed, it may be helpful to explain how the test will feel, and even demonstrate on a doll. Explain the reason for the test. Knowing the "how and why" may reduce the anxiety your child feels.
How the Test Will Feel Return to top
When the antigen is injected, there may be a slight stinging or burning sensation. There may also be mild itching at the site of injection afterwards.
Why the Test is Performed Return to top
Leprosy is a chronic and potentially disfiguring infection if left untreated. It is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium leprae.
This test is a research tool that helps classify the different types of leprosy. It is not recommended as the main mode of diagnosis.
Normal Results Return to top
People who don't have leprosy will have little or no skin reaction to the antigen. Patients with some forms of leprosy (lepromatous leprosy) will also have no skin reaction to the antigen.
What Abnormal Results Mean Return to top
A positive skin reaction may be seen in patients with tuberculoid and borderline tuberculoid leprosy. Patients with lepromatous leprosy will not have a positive skin reaction.
Risks Return to top
There is an extremely small risk of an allergic reaction which may include itching and rarely hives.
Considerations Return to top
This test is used primarily as a research tool and only helps in the classification of leprosy. It should not be used to establish a diagnosis of leprosy.Update Date: 7/1/2007 Updated by: Mark Levin, MD, Division of Infectious Disease, MacNeal Hospital, Berwyn,IL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.