Background  Superficial basal cell carcinoma (BCC) presents as a scaly, pink to red–brown patch and is predominantly located on the trunk. Clinical diagnosis may not be always easy and implicates a variety of differential diagnoses; in this situation dermoscopy has been reported improving the diagnostic accuracy. This study investigated dermoscopic patterns of superficial BCC focalizing the most specific and frequent structures in order to improve the diagnostic accuracy.

Limitations  Study population referred to skin lesion clinic.

Methods  Dermoscopic patterns of 42 superficial BCCs were analyzed and photographed. These cases represented the 8% of all BCCs excised in our Department between 2005 and 2006.

Results  Dermoscopic structures observed in the 42 superficial BCCs consisted of shiny white to red areas (100%), “erosions” (78.6%), short fine telangiectasias (SFTs) (66.6%), leaf-like areas (16.6%), arborizing telangiectasias (14.3%), blue–gray globules (14.3%) and large blue–gray ovoid nests (4.7%).

Conclusions  Our study identifies the presence of shiny white to red areas, SFTs and “erosions” as main dermoscopic criteria of superficial BCC. Other dermoscopic features, such as leaf-like areas, arborizing telangiectasias, blue–gray globules and large blue–gray ovoid nests, are not strongly associated with the diagnosis of superficial BCC but they are useful in the differential diagnosis from other pigmented and nonpigmented skin lesions.