The KOH (potassium hydroxide) preparation is used to find out
whether a fungal infection is present on the skin.
A sample of skin is taken by lightly scraping the infected
The skin sample is placed on a slide with KOH solution and the solvent DMSO. This solution slowly dissolves the skin cells but not the fungus cells.
The fungus cells can then be seen with a microscope. Color stains may be used
so that the fungus is easier to see.
If you have patches of skin that are itchy, red, or scaly with
bumps that look like blisters on the edges, a KOH test may be done to find out whether you
have a fungal infection of the skin.
Findings of a KOH test may include the following:
No fungi are present in the skin samples.
Fungi are present in the skin samples.
A doctor may be able to know if you have a
fungal infection by the appearance of the rash and may not need to do a KOH
If the KOH preparation shows that you do not have a
fungal infection, other tests may be done to figure out the cause of
the skin problem.
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November 3, 2011
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology
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