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Tinea Pedis Workup

  • Author: Courtney M Robbins, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
 
Updated: Nov 19, 2015
 

Laboratory Studies

In suspected tinea pedis, order direct potassium hydroxide (KOH) staining for fungal elements. Usually, the fungal elements are easily identified from scaly lesions. Using counterstains may enhance the visibility of the hyaline hyphae found in dermatophyte infections. Examples include the chitin-specific stains chlorazol black E, which stains hyphae blue-black, and calcofluor, which fluoresces hyphae under a fluorescent microscope.

A sample from skin scrapings may be obtained using a No. 15 blade. When blisters are present, the highest fungal yield is obtained by scraping the roof of the vesicle.

A fungal culture may be performed to confirm the diagnosis of tinea pedis and to identify the pathogenic species. Common media include dermatophyte test medium, Mycosel, or mycobiotic agar. Use caution when choosing the correct culture medium because certain media (eg, dermatophyte test medium) contain cycloheximide, which inhibits the growth of nondermatophyte molds. Because these fungi can be a factor in tinea pedis, use agar without cycloheximide.

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Histologic Findings

A skin biopsy and histopathological study are rarely needed to confirm a diagnosis of tinea pedis. Fungal elements within the stratum corneum can usually be identified using periodic acid-Schiff or Gomori methenamine-silver stain but may be sparse or absent in inflammatory or interdigital tinea pedis complicated by secondary bacterial infection. Neutrophils may be noted within the stratum corneum, a finding that should prompt consideration of a dermatophyte infection. In vesicular tinea pedis, spongiotic intraepidermal vesicles are present; in the chronic hyperkeratotic (moccasin) type, hyperkeratosis and epidermal acanthosis usually are present. Both types are associated with an acute or chronic dermatitis that may contain eosinophils.

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Contributor Information and Disclosures
Author

Courtney M Robbins, MD Dermatologist, Associated Dermatologists, Birmingham, AL

Courtney M Robbins, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, Women's Dermatologic Society

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Coauthor(s)

Boni E Elewski, MD Professor, Department of Dermatology, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Boni E Elewski, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Michael J Wells, MD, FAAD Associate Professor, Department of Dermatology, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Paul L Foster School of Medicine

Michael J Wells, MD, FAAD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Dermatology, American Medical Association, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Lester F Libow, MD Dermatopathologist, South Texas Dermatopathology Laboratory

Lester F Libow, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology, American Society of Dermatopathology, Texas Medical Association

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Dirk M Elston, MD Professor and Chairman, Department of Dermatology and Dermatologic Surgery, Medical University of South Carolina College of Medicine

Dirk M Elston, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Gregory J Raugi, MD, PhD Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Dermatology, University of Washington at Seattle School of Medicine; Chief, Dermatology Section, Primary and Specialty Care Service, Veterans Administration Medical Center of Seattle

Gregory J Raugi, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Dermatology

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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