A skin biopsy is a procedure where a small piece of abnormal skin is removed for testing. There are three main types of skin biopsies:
- Shave biopsy—outer part of affected area is removed
- Punch biopsy—a small cylinder of skin is removed using a punch tool
- Excisional biopsy—an entire area of abnormal skin is removed
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A skin biopsy is used to test an area of abnormal skin. If possible the entire area will be removed during biopsy. A skin biopsy may be done to diagnose:
- Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
- Cancer or benign skin growths
- Inflammatory skin disorders, such as psoriasis
Skin biopsy may also be done to:
- Make sure a tumor was completely removed—by testing remaining skin
- Monitor the effect of a treatment
Last reviewedJune 2013by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.