Blue and Black Dress (sorry… Mole)

Blue and Black Dress (sorry… Mole)

In recent days, a blue and black ( or is it white and gold?) dress has gone viral on the internet. A single picture of a dress has created plenty of self doubt, disagreements between friends, and much more.

In case you have not seen the famous photo, we have reproduced it here:

(Courtesy Caitlin McNeill, Tumblr)

The problem has been, some are seeing a blue and black dress, and others are adamant it is a white and gold dress.

Who is correct?

New York Times has penned an article to explain the phenomenon.

In essence, lighting and our own inbuilt colour bias affect the way we see colours.

You may ask, what has this got to do with skin and skin cancer?

Well, you probably already know that colour is one of the features of skin cancer, in particular melanoma.

Blue and black are very worrying colours especially if combined in a mole. It may be a melanoma.

Can you see the blue in this melanoma on the chest of a young man?

Not everyone can.

To see it well and reliably, we need to eliminate the reflection and to use specialised equipment, so our eyes are not “tricked” like the dress.

This is a small melanoma on the shin of a young lady in her 20s:

Despite removing the light reflection and using specialised equipment, not everyone can see the blue reliably. Can you see it? The fact is, some colours can be so subtle not everyone can see it. We need the best equipment and training. And we need other opinions in cases like this.

What can we learn from this blue and black dress?

  1. Always check your skin in daylight coloured lighting.
  2. Always ask your friends and family to look at your skin and moles if you are at all unsure. Remember, our eyes have inbuilt bias. We need other opinions.
  3. Make sure your doctor examines your skin in good lighting, preferably with a specialised technique called Dermoscopy.
  4. If your doctor appears unsure, respectfully ask for a second opinion. We all have colour bias that we are not even aware of. This includes doctors.

And, just in case you and your friends are wondering, the dress is blue and black.