The 5 Minute Fungal Nail Test – Frequently Asked Questions
How does it work?
The Dermatophyte Test Strip (DTS) works by a process known as immune-chromotography, similar to that used in a pregnancy test.
The DTS contains a monoclonal antibody (mAb) that specifically react with a polysaccharide that is present in the cell wall of dermatophytes.
When an infected nail sample is added to the buffer solution the polysaccharide is released and picked up by the DTS. The fungal polysaccharide, if present, is absorbed into the test strip and then interacts with the mAb present in the strip. A pink line occurs in the test strip to confirm the test has worked whilst the appearance of a purple-brown line below it confirms the presence of dermatophytes in the sample.
Why should I bother diagnosing it, I can tell by looking?
Studies have shown that even experts (dermatologists and podiatrists) at very best can only be around 67% accurate by visual diagnosis meaning they still get 1 in 3 diagnoses wrong. Clinical guidelines and published papers repeatedly state it is good practice to establish a formal diagnosis before treating. Why?
- Because around half of dystrophic nails are not fungal
- Because one may risk treating (and charging) a patient for something they do not have.
How accurate is the test?
The DTS in published studies has been shown to have an accuracy of 97% - meaning you can be confident that the tests will give results.
How much sample is required?
Due to the sensitivity of the test only a small amount of nail specimen is required. In work conducted to date, less than 1 gram of infected nail can predict the presence or absence of infection.
What species can the strip detect?
The test strip is able to rapidly detect the presence of different types of dermatophyte (T. rubrum, T. mentagrophytes [var.interdigitale], T.violaceum, T.tonsurans, Microsporum gypseum, M.canis and E.floccosum), including all the most commonly encountered species causing nail infections in the UK.
Is there reliable scientific evidence that the test really works?
Yes, the DTS has undergone rigorous testing and to date a number of peer reviewed publications documenting its successful use have appeared in the British Journal of Dermatology and the Journal of Dermatology.
Can the test be used if the patient has been using antifungal treatments?
Yes, unlike traditional mycology, the test is unaffected by any antifungal treatments which may be present in a nail sample.
How much should I charge the patient for the test in clinic?
Following market research in podiatry clinics, we would recommend that the patient should be charged at a minimum of £40 per test in clinic.