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Culture for Dermatophytes

Dermatophytoses are fungal infections of the keratinised tissue of humans.

The dermatophytes have a common ability to digest keratin. Tissue invasion is usually cutaneous due to the inability of this group of fungi to penetrate deeper tissues as a result of non-specific inhibitory factors in serum.

The nature of the infection may assist in identification of the causative fungus as many dermatophytes have characteristic infection patterns. Dermatophytes are of the genera Epidermophyton, Microsporum and Trichophyton.

Non-dermatophytes may also be clinically relevant under certain circumstances.

Specimen requirements

Specimens of skin, hair and subungal (nail) scrapings should ideally be received in folded black paper, placed within a plastic bag or container.

Nail samples can be received in either folded black paper or a sterile universal container. Subungal (nail) scrapings are a superior sample than nail clippings.

Samples should ideally be collected prior to antimicrobial therapy and samples should be kept dry at room temperature until processed.

State any site of lesion and any animal contact.

Laboratory turnaround time

Please see Turnaround times

Laboratory method

Samples for dermatophyte isolation are cultured onto selective media. The culture plates are looked at weekly as dermatophytes are generally slow growing. This also reduces the risk of overgrowth of the media from contaminating fungi from the environment.

Samples for dermatophyte investigation are also looked at under the microscope for the presence or absence of fungal hyphae.

Where to find results of these tests

  • All results are returned electronically where possible (EPR, SunquestICE).
  • Some results may be phoned to clinicians and GPs.
  • Results are never given directly to patients by the laboratory staff.

Further information and contact details

For further information please email:

Confidential patient information should only be sent from accounts.

Microbiology Laboratory Users Manual (pdf, 684 KB)