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Skin lesion KOH exam
Alternative namesPotassium hydroxide examination of skin lesion; Fungal wet prep
DefinitionThe skin lesion KOH exam is a test to diagnose a fungal infection of the skin .
How the test is performedThe lesion is scraped, using a blunt edge such as the edge of a microscope slide. The scrapings from the skin lesion are placed in a solution of potassium hydroxide (KOH) and examined under the microscope. The fungus can be seen, if present. This is different from a saline (salt water) examination, since the KOH destroys all non-fungal cells, making it much easier to see the fungal material.
How to prepare for the testThere is no special preparation for the test.
Infants and children:
The physical and psychological preparation you can provide for this or any test or procedure depends on your child's age, interests, previous experiences, and level of trust. For specific information regarding how you can prepare your child, see the following topics as they correspond to your child's age:
How the test will feelYou may feel a pressure sensation when the lesion is scraped from the skin.
Why the test is performedThe test is performed when fungal infections of the skin are suspected.
Normal ValuesThe lack of fungus is normal and expected.
What abnormal results mean
The KOH smear shows hyphae or fungal organisms. This may indicate ringworm ( tinea corporis ), athlete's foot , jock itch , or many other fungal infections.
What the risks areThere is a small risk of bleeding or infection from scraping the lesion.
Special considerationsNot applicable.
Update Date: 10/27/2003Jeffrey Drayer, M.D., Dermatologist, Los Angeles, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT