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Dermatology. 2006;212(1):27-30.

Dermatoscope as vector for transmissible diseases - no apparent risk of nosocomial infections in outpatients.

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Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Basel, Basel, Switzerland.



To determine nonpathogenic and potentially pathogenic bacterial growth isolated from dermatoscopes of dermatologists using oil as contact medium in the daily routine at two outpatient sections in Switzerland.


We investigated the microbiologic colonization of dermatoscopes (Dermatoskop Delta 10, Heine Optotechnik, or Dermogeniusbasic, Rodenstock) during routine use in the outpatient sections of the Departments of Dermatology at the University of Basel and Kantonsspital Aarau. 112 swabs (4 from Aarau, 108 from Basel) taken under standardized conditions were microbiologically worked up in the same laboratory. Oil (101) and 63% isopropyl alcohol (11) were used as contact medium.


39 of 112 swabs showed no bacterial growth. 73 of 112 showed growth of nonpathogenic bacteria (skin flora). Additionally to the cultivation of nonpathogenic bacteria, 3 swabs showed growth of oxacillin-sensitive potentially pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus. Of 11 swabs taken after using 63% isopropyl alcohol as a contact medium, 6 revealed no bacterial growth and 5 showed the growth of skin flora.


The potential risk of nosocomial infection related to the routine use of dermatoscopes in outpatients is small, and the use of oil as a contact medium for dermatoscopy to enhance the optical quality seems to be unproblematic.

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