Also termed as sclerosing hemangioma, dermatofibroma refers to abnormal growths on skin. This skin disorder typically occurs on the lower limbs.
Dermatofibroma growths mostly consist of fibrous tissues and are full of dermal dendritic histiocyte cells. Hence, it is also sometimes known as fibrous histiocytoma. Dermatofibroma skin defects are benign. It is considered as a form of urticaria, which is another kind of skin infection.
In most cases, dermatofibroma appears as a solitary anomalous tumor. It can also occur in clusters or groups. The skin defects are quite tiny and usually measure half an inch to one cm diametrically. They are solid, rounded, and look like a protruding thickened bulb. It may consist of scar tissue and be purplish or brownish. Dermatofibroma can also affect the deeper parts of the skin like the dermis layer.
Minor cases of dermatofibroma are harmless and need no treatment. Patients may however visit a doctor for cosmetic reasons.
Symptoms of dermatofibroma
A few common signs and symptoms of dermatofibroma are listed below:
- Dermatofibroma skin defects are unique and easily distinguishable from other abnormal skin growths.
- The growths may bleed upon scratching.They may move inwards when pinched.
- The size of dermatofibroma growths can vary greatly. They can be as tiny as a BB pellet or as big as a kidney pea.
- The affected skin areas may also develop clearly visible patches, which can be pink, gray, brown, red, or purple in color. The colors also tend to change with time.
- The lower areas of the legs are usually affected by dermatofibroma. Sometimes, the arms or trunk may also develop them.
- It typically forms as a single abnormal growth, but may also occasionally occur in bunches.
- Almost all dermatofibroma growths are sensitive and itchy.
- They may not cause pain; but with the passage of time they may become increasingly tender and irritatedresulting in pain.
Dermatofibroma growths are not cancerous, but just non-malignant tumors. Patients however need to get them assessed. Any type of abnormal skin growth that is dark brown or black, or which changes its size, shape, or color, has to be verified by a doctor. It is vital to seek immediate medical attention when the growths cause extreme pain or bleeding.
Causes of dermatofibroma
Doctors are not aware of the exact cause of dermatofibroma. The abnormal skin growth may initially develop as a button-shaped hard papule which may be tender and later change in size.
A few risk factors associated with increased vulnerability to developing dermatofibroma are listed below:
- Women are at greater risk than men
- Dermatofibroma can occur in people across all ages. However, it is more common in middle-aged and older adults, and rare in children.
- There are some genetic links involved. A family history of the skin condition increases the susceptibility to it.
- Minor injuries can increase the threat. On occasions, even an insect bite can cause dermatofibroma.
Treatment of dermatofibroma
Dermatofibroma is not a harmful condition and hence treatment is usually not required.
Some affected individuals may opt for surgical removal of the anomalous growth/growths. The reason for treatment could be cosmetic, or it may be needed if the growth occurs in a peculiar spot, like the face, so as to cause discomfort. For example, dermatofibroma growths on the face can get cut during shaving. Sometimes the growths may rub against the clothes and cause irritation. Dermatofibroma that causes itchiness or pain also needs to be medically treated.
It may also be noted that in very rare instances, a specific form of skin cancer, called DFSP or dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, looks like dermatofibroma growths in the initial stages. This type of cancer poses the risk of spreading to other areas of the body. Hence, it is vital to consult a doctor whenever any dermatofibroma-like growths appear on the skin.
Diagnostic tests often do not give a definite conclusion of the presence of dermatofibroma. Hence, doctors usually suggest a biopsy to ascertain its prevalence. A biopsy is a procedure wherein a portion of the affected tissue is taken out and examined in a laboratory.
A few common treatment options for dermatofibroma are listed below:
- One of the most common ways to remove dermatofibroma growths is surgery. However, as the abnormal skin defects can affect even the deeper skin layers, surgery would involve the deeper layers as well. This can result in scarring.
- Dermatofibroma can also be treated via cryosurgery. It is a process that involves the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze and destroy the uppermost part of a dermatofibroma growth, without scarring.
- Surgically scrapping-off the topmost affected areas via advanced surgical instruments is another treatment procedure that does not cause scar marks. However, both the above two options only destroy the top part of the abnormal growth. The tumor affecting the inner sections of the skin do not get destroyed. This can then pose the risk of a relapse, and patients may need to undergo the same surgical procedures once again.