Looking at your mole or skin (dermoscopy)

You will see a skin specialist (dermatologist). They will ask you questions about your mole or abnormal area of skin, such as how long you have had it and what changes you have noticed.

They will look closely at the abnormal area, and will check the rest of your skin for any changes. They usually use a dermatoscope to do this. 

What is a dermatoscope?

A dermatoscope is a handheld instrument, a bit like a magnifying glass. It can make things bigger (magnify) by up to 10 times.

Your specialist puts some oil or gel onto your skin. They then hold the dermatoscope on to your skin so they can examine the area very closely. This does not hurt or affect your skin.

Below are pictures of dermatoscopes.

Photographs of Dermatoscopes


Your specialist also takes photographs of any abnormal areas or moles. This makes it easier to look for changes over time, if necessary.

What happens next


Your specialist will remove the mole or abnormal area of skin if they think it might be melanoma skin cancer. They might do this during the same appointment or book you in for another appointment.


Your specialist may think that they don’t need to remove it straightaway, but they are not completely sure that it is harmless. In this case, they will ask you to go back in 3 months to see if there are any changes.


If your specialist thinks it is harmless, they will reassure you. They will give you advice on staying safe in the sun, what skin changes to look out for and to go back to your GP if you have any new changes or are concerned. 

  • Melanoma: assessment and management
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), July 2015

  • Dermoscopy, with and without visual inspection, for diagnosing  melanoma in adults (Review)
    J Dinnes and others
    Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews, 2018

  • Enhancing Skin Cancer Diagnosis with Dermoscopy
    Z J Wolner and others
    Dermatologic Clinics,2017.  Volume 35, Issue 4, Pages 417 – 437.

Last reviewed: 
22 Apr 2020
Next review due: 
21 Apr 2023

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