A fungal culture is a type of procedure that is used to
determine if fungi are present in an area of the body. Fungi are microorganisms that thrive in moist,
dark places, such as in shoes, a damp locker room, or in the folds of the skin.
Some fungi are not harmful, while other types can cause infections.
A fungal culture can be done as:
- a throat culture
- a blood culture
- a skin culture
- a genital culture
- a wound culture
- a mucoscal culture
- a nail or fingernail culture
This test can help determine if you have an infection and,
if needed, what type of fungus is causing the infection. This information can
help your doctor determine the most effective treatment course.
A fungal culture might also be referred to as a fungal
When Would Your Doctor Recommend This Test?
If your doctor suspects that you have an infection, he or
she will perform a fungal culture on the suspected area. Common types of fungal
- Athlete’s foot
- Yeast infection or jock itch
- Onychomycosis (fungal nail infection)
Sometimes the symptoms of a fungal infection mimic or look
like the symptoms of a bacterial or viral infection. Because the medications used
to treat bacterial and viral infections aren’t effective on fungal infections, doctors
might want to perform a fungal culture to be sure that an infection is caused
by a fungus.
Some typical signs and symptoms of a fungal infection in the
skin are itchy, red skin and scales. Symptoms of a fungal infection in the
nails include thick nails that are brittle and yellow in color. Signs of a
fungal infection in the mouth include white patches in the mouth. During a
yeast infection, vaginal discharge and itching occurs.
Most fungal infections occur on the skin, mouth, or genitals.
Some infections can be more serious and occur inside the body, such as in the
lungs or the blood. A fungal culture can aid in identifying the type of fungus
so that the best treatment choice can be made.
What Happens During This Procedure?
During this test, a health care provider brushes a large
cotton swab over the area where the infection is present. For a throat culture,
a patient is asked to open their mouth wide so that the care provider can swab
the back of the throat. If a health care provider suspects a nail infection,
clippings may be taken and sent to the lab. If they suspect a blood infection
caused by a fungus, a blood culture (or blood sample) will be taken.
The swab is then sent to the lab for analysis. There is no
pain with a fungal culture, and no preparation needed. There is little risk
associated with a fungal culture.
Sometimes it can take a few weeks to get the results of a
fungal culture. In the meantime, treatment with medication is sometimes
recommended. It is a good idea to keep an area with a possible fungal infection
dry. Because fungal infections can spread, washing hands regularly is also
If the results from the culture are negative or normal, this
means there are no fungi present. If the results are positive, this means there
are fungi present. A care provider might order a test to identify the type of
fungus that is present to make sure the correct treatment can be found. Some types
of microorganisms occur normally on the skin.