Dermatoscopy is a routine examination performed by dermatologists. It has a great importance in prevention and early diagnostics of skin cancers. If you visit a dermatologist because of a trouble with a birthmark, they you are going to be most likely examined with dermatoscope.


The examination uses a device known as dermatoscope. It is a small handheld tool that can multiply magnify the examined lesion and it also has a light source. There are many types of dermatoscopes. In basic devices, the examiner looks directly into the magnifying glass, more high-tech dermatoscopes can be connected to a computer. The picture can be downloaded and stored in the computer for later use or for sending to other medical specialists. 


The examination requires no special preparation and the patient must only takes off the clothes in areas that are going to be examined.


The dermatoscope can mediate a high-quality image of any skin lesion. However, its biggest importance is in diagnosing skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma and melanoma. The doctor can examine any suspicious lesion magnified and well-lit. This helps to find any warning signs – color changes, irregular margins, traces of bleeding and others. This makes easier the decision, if to perform excision of the skin affection.


The only relative disadvantage is that dermatoscopy is evaluated subjectively and the result largely depends on the experience of the medical examiner. However, modern dermatoscope with possibility of a computer connection allow sharing the results with other physicians, which increases the chance of proper diagnosis. In addition, special computer program are being developed that should be able to differentiate the benign and dangerous lesions.


Dermatoscopy is a simple, non-invasive and widely available diagnostic method that does not expose the patient to harmful radiation and provides valuable information for evaluation of skin lesions of unknown origin.


Jiri Stefanek, MD  Author of texts: Jiri Stefanek, MD
 Sources: basic text sources