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Current Detection Methods for Onychomycosis

Identifying symptoms can speed up treatment and future prevention.

By Ali Ishak

Updated: April 14th, 2023 8:30 AM

Published: April 13th, 2023 11:23 AM


Onychomycosis, commonly known as toenail fungus, is a fungal infection that affects the nails of the fingers and toes. It is a common condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Onychomycosis can be difficult to diagnose because it shares similar symptoms with other nail conditions. In this blog post, we will discuss the current detection methods for onychomycosis.

Physical Examination

Physical examination is the first step in diagnosing onychomycosis. A healthcare provider will examine the affected nail and look for signs of fungal infection, such as thickening, discoloration, and deformity. They may also check for signs of other nail conditions that share similar symptoms, such as psoriasis or eczema.

Culture Test

A culture test involves taking a sample of the affected nail and growing it in a laboratory to determine the type of fungus causing the infection. This test is often used when the diagnosis is unclear, or when the infection does not respond to treatment. The results of a culture test can take several weeks to come back.

Direct Microscopic Examination

Direct microscopic examination involves taking a sample of the affected nail and examining it under a microscope to look for signs of fungal infection. This test is quick and can be done in the healthcare provider’s office. However, it is not as accurate as a culture test and may miss some cases of onychomycosis.

PCR Testing By Southwest Labs

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing is a newer diagnostic test that can detect fungal DNA in a nail sample. This test is more accurate than direct microscopic examination and can detect fungal infections that may be missed by culture tests. The Onychomycosis test is offered by Southwest Labs as part of its new line of Infectious Disease tests. To learn more click here.


Onychomycosis can be a challenging condition to diagnose because it shares similar symptoms with other nail conditions. Current detection methods for onychomycosis include physical examination, culture test, direct microscopic examination, PCR testing, and laser scanning. Each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages, and healthcare providers may use a combination of tests to make a definitive diagnosis. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential for managing onychomycosis and preventing complications. If you suspect you have onychomycosis, it is important to seek medical attention from a healthcare provider.

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