Dermoscopy of Bacterial, Viral, and Fungal Skin Infections: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2023 Jan;13(1):51-76. doi: 10.1007/s13555-022-00855-2. Epub 2022 Nov 23.


Over the last three decades, the use of dermoscopy has been extended to inflammatory and infectious dermatoses. Regarding the latter, while the first applications concerned skin parasitoses, there has been a significant increase in the publication trend regarding nonparasitic dermatoses over recent years, yet data on this topic are sparse and often lack a standardized analytical approach. This systematic literature review summarizes published data on dermoscopy of bacterial, viral, and fungal dermatoses (dermoscopic findings, used setting, pathological correlation, and level of evidence of studies) and provides a homogeneous terminology of reported dermoscopic features according to a standardized methodology. A total of 152 papers addressing 43 different dermatoses and describing 184 different dermoscopic findings were included in the analysis. The majority of them displayed a level of evidence of V (107 single case reports and 40 case series), with only 5 studies showing a level of evidence of IV (case-control studies). Moreover, our analysis also underlined a high variability in the terminology used in published articles (even for the same dermatosis). Therefore, despite significant potential, future studies designed according to a systematic and standardized approach are required for a better characterization of dermoscopy of nonparasitic skin infections.

Keywords: Bacteria; Dermoscopy; Entodermoscopy; Entomodermoscopy; Fungus; Infectiouscopy; Mycoses; Viruses.

Publication types

  • Review