Dermoscopy in general dermatology: practical tips for the clinician


  • Funding sources The study was supported in part by the Italian Ministry of Health (RF-2010-2316524).
  • Conflicts of interest None declared.
  • Plain language summary available online


In addition to its well-documented value in improving the diagnosis of skin tumours, dermoscopy is continually gaining appreciation in the field of general dermatology. Dermoscopy has been shown to facilitate the clinical recognition of several inflammatory and infectious diseases, as well as their discrimination from skin tumours. Moreover, recent data indicate that it might also be profitable in assessing the outcome and adverse effects of various treatments. Application of dermoscopy should follow the standard procedure of acquiring information from patient history and clinically evaluating the number, location and morphology of the lesion(s). Four parameters should be assessed when applying dermoscopy in the realm of inflammatory and infectious diseases: (i) morphological vascular patterns; (ii) arrangement of vascular structures; (iii) colours; and (iv) follicular abnormalities, while the presence of other specific features (clues) should also be evaluated. It must be underlined that dermoscopic findings should always be interpreted within the overall clinical context of the patient, integrated with information from the history and the macroscopic examination. With new evidence continuously being gathered, the dermatoscope gradually acquires a role similar to the stethoscope of general practitioners, becoming an irreplaceable clinical tool for dermatologists. In this article, we provide a succinct summary of existing data on dermoscopy in general dermatology. Practical tips are suggested, which can assist clinicians in profitably utilizing and applying the available knowledge in their everyday practice.