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September 2006

Why Perform Dermoscopy?The Evidence for Its Role in the Routine Management of Pigmented Skin Lesions

Arch Dermatol. 2006;142(9):1211-1212. doi:10.1001/archderm.142.9.1211

Dermoscopy (surface microscopy, oil epiluminescence microscopy, and dermatoscopy) is a technique that uses either a handheld magnification device after application of a liquid at the skin-device interface or cross-polarized instruments. It allows visualization of diagnostic submacroscopic morphological key structures of pigmented and nonpigmented skin lesions located from the epidermis down to the upper dermis that cannot be seen with the naked eye.1 Early studies showed that dermoscopy can improve the clinical diagnosis of virtually all pigmented lesions, including early melanoma.2,3 Since then, an expanding literature has described the dermoscopic features of a wide variety of pigmented and nonpigmented lesions, aiding diagnostic decision making, even in such challenging sites as the nail apparatus4,5 and acral skin.6 Indeed, dermoscopy is a standard method of diagnosis in many countries and has been shown to be useful beyond the specialist setting in primary care (general practice).7,8

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