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KOH (Potassium Hydroxide) Test for Thrush

Exam Overview

The KOH preparation test is used to find out whether oral candidiasis (thrush) is present in a person's mouth. A sample of skin is taken from the person's mouth by lightly scraping the white patches.

The sample is then placed on a slide with potassium hydroxide (KOH) solution and gently heated. This solution slowly dissolves the skin cells but not the yeast cells. The yeast cells can then be seen with a microscope. Color stains may be used so that the yeast cells are easier to see.

Why It Is Done

If a person has white patches in the mouth or on the tongue, a KOH test may be done to find out whether the person has thrush.

Results

Findings of a KOH test may include the following.

Normal

No yeast or other fungi are present in the sample from the person's mouth.

Abnormal

Yeast or other fungi are present in the sample from the person's mouth.

What To Think About

In general, a KOH test is not needed to diagnose thrush. A doctor usually can diagnose thrush by looking at the white patches in a person's mouth.

Complete the medical test information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this test.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised July 25, 2011

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