Dermoscopy is a technique widely used by dermatologists in the investigation of moles and other skin conditions. It is also known as dermatoscopy, epiluminescence microscopy (ELM) or skin surface microscopy. The dermoscope is an optical device which has a specialised light source built into it. When placed in direct contact with the skin, the dermoscope reveals structures which are just below the surface of the skin and as such invisible to the naked eye. This enhanced view assists the dermatologist in diagnosing the lesion, and in judging whether it requires treatment.
MIUK uses a high resolution camera fitted with a dermoscope to record the enhanced view. The image is also highly magnified so enables the convenient viewing of small lesions. A standard photograph of the mole is taken at the same time, also at high magnification, to show its appearance to the naked eye. The pictures with dermoscopy provide an excellent record for monitoring the development of moles. The interpretation of dermoscopic images does require a trained eye. We will usually forward the pictures directly to the referring doctor because of this.
To enable the highest quality image, a small drop of oil is placed on the mole. The lens of the dermoscope is then placed in contact with the skin before the photograph is taken. The process is painless, completely non-invasive and takes just a few seconds per mole.
Medical Advisor – Dr. Christopher Rowland Payne
Dr. Christopher Rowland Payne, our Medical Adviser for the Mole Mapping Programme says, “Mole Mapping and serial dermoscopy are particularly helpful for people with the atypical naevus syndrome, who have many moles of various shapes, sizes and colours. The moles can occur anywhere on the body but favour the upper trunk. The atypical naevus syndrome is not at all rare and is particularly common between the ages of 25 and 45. People with the atypical naevus syndrome have an increased risk of developing melanoma and are therefore best advised to avoid absolutely all sunburn and also to try to avoid sun tanning.
People with atypical naevus syndrome should report any change in their moles and this is where mole mapping and serial dermoscopy can help a lot. Mole mapping provides a yardstick against which future examination of the moles can be performed. This makes it easy to recognise if any moles are changing. Serial dermoscopy can reveal very subtle changes in the pattern of pigmentation within particular moles which might not otherwise be apparent to the doctor”.