In instances where a patient might be at risk of a skin issue, such as some kind of skin cancer, a dermoscopy is often the procedure that will be used to properly detect it. This procedure is so important because although self-checks can be useful for patients in discovering skin abnormalities for themselves, most of the time the discovery of problematic areas will be discovered during a professional check. In this article, we take a look at what a dermoscopy is and what it might involve for a patient with a skin abnormality.
What a dermoscopy is used to analyse for
A dermoscopy is a procedure that is performed with a dermatoscope, an instrument that resembles a handheld microscope that is designed to help specialists to see under the surface of the skin to find any prominent skin issues. During one of these professional skin checks, the skin cancer doctor will analyse known skin lesions over the course of the dermoscope (which you might also have heard referred to as a dermatoscopy or epiluminescence microscopy) to get a much clearer idea of where and how certain skin issues might be a problem. Depending on the doctor, this procedure can be tackled in a few different ways and might cover different areas of the body, but generally the procedure is consistent in most ways among doctors. Although it can often be clear where there are issues in the skin itself, a dermoscopy is so valuable because it can more easily determine if certain areas are problematic. For example, a skin specialist will be able to confidently differentiate between benign and malignant tumours. In addition to identification, they will be able to monitor lesions that might have the potential to become cancerous, so that if anything does progress in a negative way it can be treated as rapidly as possible.
Other skin issues that a dermoscopy can identify
Dermoscopies are useful for things other than simple identification. They can also help skin specialists better understand the surgical margin for skin cancers. This is because most of the time, skin cancers have indistinct margins and properly investigating and analysing these margins can be very important in ensuring no cancerous cells are left behind after the initial removal, as this can cause significant problems in the long term. In addition to the identification of both malignant and benign skin tumours, dermoscopies can also identify a wide range of other skin issues that a patient might have. These can include being able to identify other cancerous lesions, such as melanoma, basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), and squamous cell carcinoma (SCCs), skin lesions such as angiomas, dermatofibromas and seborrheic keratosis and also more general things like hair and scalp diseases (including diseases such as alopecia), fungal infections, scabies, warts and pubic lice.
Do you need to undergo a dermoscopy?
If you have a family history of skin cancer or have found that suspicious lesions have developed on your skin, its very much worth your while to visit a skin specialist. If they do find anything wrong, whether it be glaring or not, they may then implement a full skin check that will include a dermoscopy. Being a quick and pain free exercise, it can be a great way to simply calm any concerns you have about skin cancer.