At a glance
Also known as
KOH prep; Fungal smear; Mycology tests
Why get tested?
To detect a fungal infection, to determine which specific or fungi are present, and sometimes to isolate and grow the fungi for subsequent susceptibility testing
When to get tested?
When the doctor suspects that you have a skin, lung, or fungal infection; sometimes after treatment to monitor its effectiveness
The sample collected depends upon the suspected location(s) of the infection. It typically includes: scrapings of the skin, nail or hair samples for a superficial infection (common) or, body fluids, blood, and/or tissue for a deep infection (rare)
Test preparation needed?
What is being tested?
are that exist in nature as single-celled or as multi-cellular moulds. There are more than 50,000 species of fungi in the environment, but less than 200 species are associated with human disease. Of these, only about 20 to 25 species are common causes of infection.
Fungal infections represent the invasion of tissues by one or more species of fungi and range from superficial skin infections to serious deep tissue, blood, lung or diseases. Superficial fungal infections are very common. They may cause nail infections or itchy red scaly skin infections such as those commonly known as tinea, including athlete’s foot, jock itch, and ringworm. Other fungi cause yeast infections, which may present with white patches in the mouth (oral thrush) or vaginal itching and discharge (vaginal thrush). According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 75% of women will have at least one yeast infection in their lifetime.
Much less commonly, some fungi may spread from their original location to penetrate to deeper tissues or may cause serious lung infections, septicaemia, or systemic infections that can affect any organ in the body. Fungal lung infections typically start with the accidental inhalation of microscopic fungal . Serious lung or systemic fungal infection is rare in healthy people with normal immune systems. However, people that are , such as those with advanced HIV or AIDS, those who have had an organ transplant, and those with an underlying condition such as diabetes or lung disease are at an increased risk of having a severe fungal infection, a systemic infection, and/or recurrent infections. There are a few fungi which may cause lung or systemic infection in healthy people but these are uncommon in Australia.
Fungal tests are used to detect and identify fungi in order to diagnose infections and help guide their treatment. Fungal testing typically includes a microscopic examination of the sample on a slide, sometimes using a preparation or stain to aid in detection of fungal elements. This may be sufficient to determine that the infection is due to a fungus and, with superficial infections, no more tests may be required. However, in cases of persistent, deep, or systemic infections when a more definitive diagnosis is needed, it may be followed by additional tests such as and susceptibility testing, , and/or tests, or molecular tests, such as .
How is the sample collected for testing?
The sample collected depends upon the suspected location(s) of the infection. For superficial infections, the sample may include scrapings of the skin, clipped or shaved nail or hair, vaginal secretions collected with a swab, or a urine sample. For deeper tissue, organ or infections, the sample may involve the collection of blood from a vein, from the lungs, and/or the collection of a tissue . If meningitis is suspected, a sample of is collected.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed.