What is a skin biopsy, and why is it done?

A skin biopsy is an easy and minimally invasive procedure that lets doctors examine the small sensory nerves in the skin. These nerves pass on information about pain and temperature. These types of nerves are often involved in certain kinds of peripheral nerve damage (neuropathies). The test lets doctors find the nerves and see how many of them there are and if they are healthy. In general, when the nerves are damaged, a number of nerves shows up as abnormal under a microscope.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 02/09/2017.


  • Myers MI, Peltier AC. Uses of Skin Biopsy for Sensory and Autonomic Nerve Assessment. Current neurology and neuroscience reports. 2013;13(1):323. doi:10.1007/s11910-012-0323-2.
  • Expert knowledge and experience of healthcare providers at Cleveland Clinic Neurology Institute Index

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