Hair and Skin Collection Guidelines for Dermatophyte (Ringworm) Culture

When skin lesions are present (i.e., clinical signs consistent with dermatophytosis/ringworm), the area of infection should be washed with a mild soap and water OR the affected area can be wiped with 70% isopropyl alcohol soaked gauze for 30 seconds.  The site should be allowed to dry before sample collection. The hair should be trimmed to a length of 0.5 cm using clean clippers or scissors. The sample should be collected from the active borders of several suspect sites with hemostats by grasping the hair shafts close to the skin and rolling the hairs from the follicles. It is important to ensure that:

  • The root hairs just beneath the skin surface are obtained, and
  • There is sufficient sample for microscopic examination and 2 culture plates (~30 root hairs).

This sample should be placed in a sterile container and submitted to the laboratory.

Do not use oil to collect the sample. DO NOT use a swab for mycotic culturing. Do not submit scalpel blades.

The recommended specimen container should have a wide mouth and be sterile (e.g., a sterile urine container or a pill bottle). The specimen should always be contained completely within the container – for example, there should be no hairs sticking out to limit the chance of contamination during transit to the laboratory. Unacceptable containers are Whirl-pak bags, plastic bags, vacutainers, or paper envelopes.

If collecting a sample from an animal without clinical signs for dermatophytosis, it is suggested that you use the “brush method.” A sterilized toothbrush or a surgical scrub brush is recommended for this technique. Brush the animal’s coat thoroughly and extensively and send only the brush to the lab fully contained in a sealed plastic bag with the submission form in a separate bag.

*Please contact the Bacteriology Laboratory at or by calling 902-566-0821 for further information regarding the collection of fungal specimens other than ringworm.