How are infected hairs collected for diagnosis of tinea capitis (scalp ringworm)?

Updated: Feb 21, 2020
  • Author: Marc Zachary Handler, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Answer

Infected hairs appearing as broken stubs are best for examination. They can be removed with forceps without undue trauma or collected by gentle rubbing with a moist gauze pad; broken, infected hairs adhere to the gauze. A toothbrush may be used in a similar fashion. [19] Alternatively, affected areas can be scraped with the end of a glass slide or with a blunt scalpel to harvest affected hairs, broken-off hair stubs, and scalp scale. This is preferable to plucking, which may remove uninvolved hairs. Scrapings may be transported in a folded square of paper. Skin specimens may be scraped directly onto special black cards, which make it easier to see how much material has been collected and provide ideal conditions for transportation to the laboratory; however, affected hairs are easier to see on white paper than on black paper. Alternatively, a swab-culture technique has been proposed where a moistened cotton tip applicator from a bacterial culture swab is used to gather a sample and sent to the laboratory for culture growth. [20]


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