Skin, nail and hair for mycology



Microscopic preparation of a Microsporum canis culture

  • Routine investigation includes microscopy and culture for dermatophytes, Candida, Malasezzia furfur (pityriasis versicolor) and other moulds
  • Pityriasis versicolor is diagnosed solely by microscopy as Malasezzia does not grow on standard laboratory culture media
  • A positive microscopy result is diagnostic for fungal infection even in the absence of a positive culture
  • In the event of a small sample being received microscopy will be given priority over culture

Sample requirements

Collect skin scrapings, nail clippings or plucked hair into Dermapak


  • The edges of skin lesions yield the greatest quantities of viable fungus. Lesions should be scraped with a blunt scalpel blade.
  • Material should be taken from any discoloured, dystrophic or brittle parts of the nail. The affected nail should be cut as far back as possible through the entire thickness and should include any crumbly material.
  • When there is superficial involvement (as in white superficial onychomycosis) nail scrapings may be taken with a curette.
  • Samples from the scalp should include skin scales and plucked hairs or hair stumps. Cut hairs are not suitable for direct examination.
Dermapak for skin, nail and hair samples.
  Instrcutions for use of Dermapak

Required information

  • Animal contact
  • Site of infection
  • Presence of immunosuppression


Store and transport at room temperature

Turnaround time

Microscopy: up to 5 days

Culture: 2 – 3 weeks

Page last reviewed: 30/03/2015