Skills Laboratory: How to perform skin scraping and skin surface cytology

Quick. Easy. Inexpensive. Review the techniques described here to maximize your diagnostic yield when using these two common dermatologic tools.
Nov 10, 2011

Skin diseases are one of the most common reasons pets are brought into veterinary hospitals. With practice, skin scrapings and cytologic analysis are easy to do and can maximize our ability to appropriately diagnose and treat skin problems in many of these patients.

Skin scraping and skin surface cytology are indicated to screen for infectious organisms in patients with hair loss, scaling, crusting, papules, pustules, or lichenification. These quick and easy in-house tests not only allow for the accurate diagnosis of the dermatitis and guide appropriate therapy, but also can generate revenue. Additionally, with the emerging problem of antibiotic-resistant bacterial skin infections, cytology to monitor response to antimicrobial therapy is important and can guide decisions about culture submission.

Click on the titles below to access these step-by-step pictorial guides:

Obtaining a skin scraping

Performing skin surface cytology