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Skin and Wound Cultures

What To Think About

  • Types of bacteria that commonly cause infection in wounds are staph (Staphylococcus), strep (Streptococcus), and Clostridium perfringens, a bacterium found in soil and in stool (feces) that can cause gangrene. The most common type of fungus that causes infection in wounds is Candida albicans.
  • Looking at fluid (such as pus) from a wound under a microscope can sometimes help identify the type of bacteria or fungi causing the infection before culture results are ready.
  • A culture that does not grow any bacteria may not mean that you do not have an infection. Sometimes the amount of sample collected, the age of the wound (or skin problem), the type of culture done, and previous use of antibiotics can prevent the growth of bacteria in the culture.
  • Testing for a virus may be done to detect and identify a viral infection in the body that is causing symptoms. To learn more, see the topic Viral Tests.
  • Most types of fungi grow very slowly and may not show up in a culture for several weeks. Your doctor may recommend that you start treatment before your culture results come back if he or she thinks you could have a fungal infection.
  • Sensitivity testing helps your doctor choose the best medicine to treat specific types of bacteria, viruses, or fungus.

Other Works Consulted

  • Chernecky CC, Berger BJ (2008). Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures, 5th ed. St. Louis: Saunders.

  • Fischbach FT, Dunning MB III, eds. (2009). Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests, 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

  • Pagana KD, Pagana TJ (2010). Mosby’s Manual of Diagnostic and Laboratory Tests, 4th ed. St. Louis: Mosby Elsevier.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerW. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
Last RevisedMay 21, 2012
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 21, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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