Article Lead Image

Wanna diagnose that pesky rash? Take a ‘skin selfie’

But please don't send them to us.


EJ Dickson


Posted on Feb 18, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 6:02 pm CDT

If you’re the type to immediately snap a picture of every new mole, wart, blotch, or skin tag that appears on your body, here’s some good news.

A new study from the University of Pennsylvania says that teledermatology, or the practice of examining a skin condition via a remote app, actually results in just as accurate a diagnosis as it would if a patient came in to see a doctor in person. Basically, you can take a selfie of your skin issue, send it to your doctor, and they can determine whether the problem is severe enough to merit a hospital visit.

The study found that nearly 95 percent of the time, teledermatologists recommended a biopsy or hospital visit in the same case as a regular dermatologist, and both groups agreed on their diagnoses 88 percent of the time. This means that teledermatology could potentially reduce patient wait times and help dermatologists themselves maximize their time more efficiently, as well as cut down on the number of hospital visits.

The study’s results are particularly noteworthy given that, according to a press release from the Penn Medical School, we’re currently undergoing a “national shortage and uneven distribution” of dermatologists in the US.

Nearly 12,000 Americans die from skin cancer a year, so the need for quality dermatological services is more urgent than you’d think. So it’s a good thing that pretty soon, a quick and accurate diagnosis of that Falkland Islands-shaped rash on your back will be just a click away.

H/T PSFK | Photo by Christiana Care/Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Share this article
*First Published: Feb 18, 2014, 7:24 am CST