A skin culture is a laboratory test to look for and identify disease-causing substances in a sample of skin. It is called a mucosal culture if the sample involves the mucous membranes .
Mucosal culture; Culture - skin; Culture - mucosal
How the test is performed:
A sample of skin or mucous membrane is needed. For information on how this is done, see:
The sample is sent to a laboratory and placed in a special dish (called a culture medium). The laboratory team checks the dish at different time periods to see if a bacteria, virus, or fungus has grown. Further tests can be done to identify the specific organism and determine the best treatment.
How to prepare for the test:
There is no preparation needed for a culture. For information on how to prepare for a skin or mucosal sample, see:
How the test will feel:
The laboratory test does not involve the patient, so it is painless. For information on how it may feel to give a skin or mucosal sample, see:
Why the test is performed:
Your doctor may order this test if you have signs or symptoms of an acute or chronic infection of the skin or mucous membranes.
A normal result means no disease-causing organisms are seen on the skin or mucosal sample.
Some microorganisms normally live on the skin. These are not a sign of infection and are considered a normal finding.
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
What abnormal results mean:
An abnormal result means a bacteria, fungus, or virus is present. This may be a sign of infection.
What the risks are:
A laboratory culture does not pose a risk to the patient. For information on risks related to removing a sample of skin or mucosal tissue, see: