Skip to Main Content

We have a new app!

Take the Access library with you wherever you go—easy access to books, videos, images, podcasts, personalized features, and more.

Download the Access App here: iOS and Android


To detect the multinucleated giant cells confirming the presence of a herpes infection.


Microscope, Bunsen burner, glass microscope slide, 5% methylene blue or Wright stain or Giemsa stain, immersion oil, and sterile scalpel or hypodermic needle.


  1. Unroof a fresh, uncrusted vesicle with a sterile hypodermic needle or scalpel.

  2. Scrape the floor of the vesicle with the scalpel and smear scrapings of the lesion onto a glass microscope slide.

  3. Let air dry.

  4. Fix specimen with absolute alcohol or gentle heat.

  5. Stain with blue stain (5% methylene blue, Wright stain, or Giemsa stain) for 5 seconds, rinse, and air dry.

  6. View preparation through immersion oil at high power (×40-50).

FIGURE 25.34

Tzanck Preparation. A Tzanck preparation of both the roof and floor of a herpetic vesicle demonstrating a multinucleated giant cell. (Photo contributor: Department of Dermatology, Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center and Brook Army Medical Center, San Antonio, TX.)

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.