There are few things in a histology laboratory that evoke more discussion than skin specimens. Has anyone ever met a histologist that did not have a strong opinion about “derms?” Is it because skins are multi-layered, multi-textured, come in a variety of sizes and shapes (some with ink and some without), and they have to be coaxed to behave during embedding and sectioning? Or is it because some skins are scaly, brittle, crunchy, bloody, hairy, fatty, and unpredictable? Skin samples are unique in that they require a combination of skills for optimal processing from beginning to end. They are some of the most difficult tissues to prepare histologically. It is often the case that histologists do not appreciate skin complexity and variety, while others enjoy the challenge that dermatology specimens bring to the work bench and they prefer to specialize in working with skin specimens.
The following pages will focus on skin tissue paraffin processing, embedding, and sectioning, as well as routine and special staining. Tips and tricks for working with dermatology specimens will be revealed throughout the course to assist the technician/technologist in successfully creating an optimal slide for diagnosis.