Dermatofibroma is a non-malignant growth on the skin that generally affects the legs. The growths are tiny and normally mature to half an inch or one centimeter in diameter. A dermatofibroma is mostly composed of fibrous tissue. The disorder is also referred to as sclerosing hemangioma. Occasionally, dermatofibromas are also known as fibrous histiocytoma, due to the occurrence of a non-cancerous growth of dermal dendritic histiocyte cells.
The abnormal growth is a kind of urticaria, which is a disease featuring occurrence of skin welts in those parts of the body where the patient has been stroked or scratched. Dermatofibroma often develops as a single abnormal tumor, but can also be found to be growing in groups.
A dermatofibroma is a brownish to purplish, rounded growth that is typically found occurring in the legs and arms. They consist of scar tissue and are hard to the touch like thick lumps. A dermatofibroma affecting the deeper layers of the skin, like the dermis, comprises of large quantities of scar-like tissue.
The signs and symptoms of dermatofibroma are listed below:
- A dermatofibroma generally affects the lower ends of the legs, but can also be noticed occurring on the torso or the arms
- It appears as a raised abnormality and elicits bleeding when traumatized
- It can differ in size. A dermatofibroma can be quite small like a BB pellet or develop to as big as a kidney pea
- The affected section of the skin may elicit pinkish, brown purplish, reddish or grayish patches that are clearly visible. The color of these patches may undergo changes with the passage of time.
- When a dermatofibroma is pinched, it tends to indent inwards
- Individuals with darker or pigmented skin may elicit darker dermatofibroma growths
- The condition is not painful. However, they have a tendency to become increasingly tender, itchy and painful
- Occasionally, dermatofibromas may be sensitive to touch and experience itchiness
- A dermatofibroma often tends to occur as a solitary skin abnormality. However, sometimes it can occur in clusters.
It may be noted that despite the fact that dermatofibromas are non-cancerous and benign skin growths, individuals affected by any type of skin abnormality must consult a doctor for evaluation. This particularly holds true for growths that are dark brown or black in color, and/or experience change in color, shape or size. All cases of bleeding, painful and rapidly growing skin anomalies have to be immediately checked by a doctor.
Causes of dermatofibroma
The exact cause of a dermatofibroma is yet unknown. The skin disorder initially appears as a firm papule or a nodule that is shaped like a button. These lesions may be mildly tender and their size may undergo some changes over time.
A few risk factors that increase the susceptibility to developing a dermatofibroma are as follows:
- A family history of the condition can pose elevated risk to developing dermatofibromas
- A dermatofibroma can affect individuals of all age groups. However, it is uncommon in children and mostly observed in older and middle aged people
- Women are more susceptible to developing the condition as compared to men.
- Any kind of mild or minor injury, such as a scratch from a thorn can also elevate the vulnerability to developing the condition
- An insect bite is another probable cause that increase the risk
- Treatment is normally not required for a dermatofibroma. However, a few suffers of the skin disorder may opt for removal of a dermatofibroma for cosmetic reasons or when it appears at an odd location that causes discomfort. For example, a dermatofibroma that occurs on the face often tends to get nicked while shaving. Some dermatofibromas may constantly rub against apparels and cause irritation.
- Painful and itchy cases of dermatofibromas have to be treated.
- If the various diagnostic tests do not yield a definite result, then doctors may opt for a biopsy wherein a piece of the affected tissue is removed for analysis
- It is possible to easily remove a dermatofibroma through surgery. However, as the skin anomalies have deep roots within the skin, surgical excision involves even the deeper layers of the skin. This can then result in scarring.
- Patients can also choose to undergo alternate treatment procedure to get rid of a dermatofibroma. Cryosurgery is a treatment method which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the top part of the skin abnormality, thereby destroying it. Also, the upper portion of a dermatofibroma can be surgically scraped off via different surgical instruments.
- The above listed treatment methods do not result in scarring. However, they are successful in destroying only the top half of a dermatofibroma, with the deeper section remaining intact. Hence, the rate of relapse is quite high. In case of a recurrence, patients may need to go for another session of dermatofibroma elimination.
- On rare occasions, a specific kind of skin cancer that initially appears like a dermatofibroma can migrate or metastasize to other parts of the body. This type of skin cancer is referred to as DFSP or dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans. Therefore, it is important for all individuals to visit a doctor for diagnosis of all kinds of new skin growths.