Pigmented skin lesions may range from benign and harmless lesions to aggressive and dangerous ones such as melanoma skin cancer. Even for experienced professionals it is difficult to differentiate these lesions during naked eye examination. Thus, complementary methods are needed to help in the early diagnosis of pigmented lesions which are critical to the patient’s cure in some cases.
Dermatoscopy (dermoscopy or epiluminescence microscopy) it is a simple and non-invasive method which aims to assist in the early diagnosis of melanoma and other skin tumors. It would be an intermediary between the clinical and the histopathological examination (biopsy). It is performed with a device called dermatoscope, a kind of very powerful magnifying glass. This instrument is placed on the lesion to be evaluated (nevus, spots, tumor, etc) and the lenses make a magnification of at least 10 times. Thus, it is possible to inspect colors, structures and vessels below the most superficial layer of the skin that are not normally visible.
The lesion is then classified as benign, malignant or suspicious and contributes to the definition of a diagnosis, the need for biopsy or complete removal of the lesion, so that the best approach may be taken.
The main indication is for the pigmented skin lesions exam intended to early diagnose melanoma. However, dermoscopy is also widely used for the diagnosis of other skin lesions, benign or malignant, for various diseases of the scalp and hair (such as hair loss and baldness) and also for an accurate diagnosis, evaluation of progress and response to treatment and it is currently an essential and typical method in dermatological practice.