Mucosal culture; Culture - skin; Culture - mucosal; Nail culture; Culture - fingernail; Fingernail culture
How the test is performed
Your health care provider may use a cotton swab to collect a sample from an open skin rash or skin sore.
A sample of skin or mucous membrane is needed. For information on how this is done, see:
A small sample of a fingernail or toenail may be taken. It may take up to three weeks to get results for this type of culture.
The sample is sent to a laboratory and checked at different time periods to see if bacteria, virus, or fungus has grown. Further tests can be done to identify the specific germ that is causing your problem. This can help your doctor determine the best treatment.
How to prepare for the test
How the test will feel
Why the test is performed
This test may be done to diagnose the cause of:
- A fungus infection of the skin, finger or toenail
- A skin rash or sore that appears to be infected
- A skin ulcer that is not healing
A normal result means no disease-causing germs are seen in the test sample.
Some germs normally live on the skin. These are not a sign of infection and are considered a normal finding.
Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or test different samples. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What abnormal results mean
What the risks are
Armstrong CA. Examination of the skin and approach to diagnosing skin diseases. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 444.
Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier: pp 491-523.