You can do that? – Skin Scraping

This month’s “You can do that?!?” features skin scraping.

“Skin Scrape” is a weird name for a test, but the test is quite useful. It’s how we diagnose mites (microscopic parasites) in an animal’s skin, sometimes called mange. When an animal has a bald spot, or other skin issues, sometimes I’ll perform a skin scrape test on the area. It takes about five minutes, and involves me rubbing a special instrument (a skin spatula) coated with mineral oil against the skin. I do this repeatedly, and apply the dead skin cells and other debris to a microscope slide. After I have “scraped” to the appropriate depth, I’m done. It doesn’t hurt at all. In fact, it’s often itchy animals I’m doing this to, and they enjoy being scratched! Once I’ve made my slide, I put it under the microscope and look for mites or mite eggs. Some owners enjoy getting to see what is living on their pet under the microscope – when they are crawling around it’s pretty neat!

There are two more common types of mites – demodex and sarcoptes. Each of these types of mange, however, could not be more different! We’ll have an article to follow about these different types of mite.