Dermatoscopy (also known as dermoscopy or epiluminescence microscopy) is the examination of cutaneous lesions with a dermatoscope (also known as dermoscope), a magnifier with either cross-polarized or non-polarized light and a liquid medium between the instrument and the skin, thus illuminating the lesion without glare from reflected light. It is used by dermatology physician specialists to help distinguish benign from malignant lesions. It is especially of aid in the diagnosis of malignant melanoma.
Skin surface microscopy started in 1663 by Kolhaus and was improved with the addition of immersion oil in 1878 by Abbe. The German dermatologist, Johann Saphier, added a built-in light source to the instrument. Goldman was the first dermatologist to coin the term "dermascopy" and to use the dermatoscope to evaluate pigmented cutaneous lesions. In 2001, the California medical device manufacturer 3Gen eliminated the need for an immersion fluid with the introduction of the DermLite®, the first polarized dermatoscope. This palm-sized instrument reduces examination times and has greatly increased the use of dermatoscopes among physicians worldwide.