Collection of skin scrapings, hair and nail clippings for the diagnosis of superficial fungal infections
- Specimens should be labelled according to the Trust’s Specimen Acceptance Policy
- Collect specimens before antifungal therapy where possible.
- Specimens should be kept at room temperature and transported to the lab as soon as possible.
Material should be sent in a Dermapak kit (small plastic bag containin black cardboard and instructions). This kit is available from the laboratory. The pack is not sterile, so bacterial culture is not appropriate from the same specimen.
Material from skin lesions is collected by gently scraping off material from the outer edges of the lesion, usually with the edge of a glass microscope slide or a scalpel blade. The edge is most likely to contain viable fungus.
Scalp scrapings are obtained as above but should include hair stubs. Hairs may be plucked from the scalp with forceps, but cut hairs are unsatisfactory as infection is usually below the surface near the scalp. The material should be transported to the laboratory as for skin scrapings.
Clippings should be taken from the discoloured or brittle parts of the nail and cut back as far as possible from the free edge as some fungi are restricted to the lower parts. Scrapings can also be taken from under the nail to supplement the clippings. Nail clippings often fail to grow fungi even if present. Whole nails can be sent to the Laboratory in a sterile Universal container.