How do I know if I have a fungal infection?
The best way to know for sure is to ask your doctor. Other skin problems can look similar to a fungal infection but require very different treatments. To find out exactly what is causing your rash, your doctor may scrape a small amount of the irritated skin onto a glass slide (or clip off a piece of nail or hair). Then he or she will look at the skin, nail or hair under a microscope. After doing this, your doctor will usually be able to tell whether your skin problem is caused by a fungus.
Sometimes a piece of your skin, hair or nail will be sent to a lab to grow the fungus in a test tube. This is another way the lab can tell if your skin problem is caused by a fungus. They can also find out the exact type of fungus. This process takes a while because a fungus grows slowly.
Diagnosis and Management of Common Tinea Infections by SL Noble, Pharm.D., RC Forbes, M.D. and PL Stamm, Pharm.D. (American Family Physician July 01, 1998, http://www.aafp.org/afp/980700ap/noble.html)
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff