Merck Manual

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Dermatomes
Dermatomes
Dermatomes

The surface of the skin is divided into specific areas, called dermatomes. A dermatome is an area of skin whose sensory nerves all come from a single spinal nerve root. (Sensory nerves carry sensory information—about such things as touch, pain, temperature, vibration, and position of a body part—to the spinal cord.)

  • There are 8 pairs of sensory nerve roots for the 7 cervical vertebrae.

  • Each of the 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, and 5 sacral vertebrae has one pair of spinal nerve roots.

  • At the end of the spinal cord, there is a pair of coccygeal nerve roots, which supply a small area of the skin around the tailbone (coccyx).

There are dermatomes for each of these nerve roots.

Sensory information from a specific dermatome is carried by sensory nerve fibers to the spinal nerve root of a specific vertebra. For example, sensory information from a strip of skin along the back of the thigh, is carried by sensory nerve fibers to the 2nd sacral vertebra (S2) nerve root.