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Dermatofibroma - Definition, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


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Dermatofibroma (DF) is a common cutaneous nodule of unknown etiology. It can occur anywhere, but seems to favor exposed areas. Dermatofibromas feel like hard lumps under the skin. Dermatofibromas occur most often in women. A dermatofibroma is also sometimes called a fibrous histiocytoma. Typical dermatofibromas cause little or no discomfort, although itching and tenderness can occur. They are firm and often feel like a stone under the skin. They may be skin coloured or brown to brown-blue in colour. Dermatofibroma are common spots found frequently on the legs, but may occur on other sites such as the arms and trunk. Dermatofibromas are best ignored. If the diagnosis is uncertain, a piece may be removed for tissue analysis. However, treatment of dermatofibromas is usually not necessary unless they are causing you some discomfort or you feel they are unattractive.

Dermatofibroma is basically a skin disease typical to youth, but dermatofibroma may occur to the people at any age. Dermatofibromas are quite common, and occur more often in women over the age of 17. The cause of dermatofibromas is unknown. They are usually single but sometimes may be multiple. Simple excision is curative. Physicians recommend a treatment only when the lesion comes in the way of shaving or becomes irritated by clothing. Dermatofibroma can be removed surgically with the help of local anesthesia. It can be flattened by using liquid nitrogen. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze it and flatten it. Liquid nitrogen destroys only the upper part of the growth and it may become noticeable after a few years. Another freezing can be done to handle the problem later.

Causes of Dermatofibroma

The exact cause of dermatofibroma is not known but in some cases it may be caused by insect bites, minor injury or thorn pricks. Dermatofibroma may also be caused by genetic factors. It mostly occurs in women. They are usually single but sometimes may be multiple. Simple excision is curative. Dermatofibromas seem to be caused by some sort of injury, such as a bump, bug bite, or cut.

Common causes and risk factors of Dermatofibroma:

  • Minor injury or thorn pricks.
  • Insect bites.
  • It mainly cause in middle aged adults than childrens.
  • A family history of dermatofibroma.

Signs and Symptoms of Dermatofibroma

Dermatofibromas most often occur on the legs and arms. Once developed, they usually persist for years. Dermatofibromas feel like hard lumps under the skin. They probably are a reaction to a minor injury, such a bug bite or a splinter. Dermatofibromas are like an iceberg in that there is more under the skin than seen on the surface. Dermatofibroma can occur at any age but generally it develops in young adulthood. Around twenty percent of the lesions occur before the age of seventeen. The nodule feels like tiny pebble or a small pea that is fixed to the skin.

Sign and symptoms may include the following :

  • Dermatofibroma are often painless but may be tender, painful.
  • Itchy or sensitive when touched.
  • The color may change over time.
  • Small, pea-sized growth.
  • Raised from the skin and may bleed if damaged.
  • Dimpling if pinched.

Treatment for Dermatofibroma

A dermatofibroma is of cosmetic significance only and although it tends to persist long term, it seldom causes any symptoms. Usually only reassurance is needed. Physicians recommend a treatment only when the lesion comes in the way of shaving or becomes irritated by clothing. Dermatofibroma can be removed surgically with the help of local anesthesia. As it grows much more beneath the surface than on the surface so the scar may be larger than the actual tumor.

Treatment may include:

  • Dermatofibromas can be removed surgically, but since they are deep, this usually leaves a scar.
  • Cryosurgery may also be used to remove a dermatofibroma.
  • The growth of nodules can be stop by using intralesional steroid injections.
  • Freezing is another technique in which liquid nitrogen is used to clear lumps but it rarely successful.