Dermatofibroma Definition

Dermatofibroma is a small mass like benign skin growth. It is a common overgrowth of the fibrous tissues located in the deeper layer of the skin.

The condition of dermatofibroma is non-cancerous (non – malignant), and it can occur anywhere on the body but mainly found on upper arms, back and lower legs.

The dermis layer of the skin is comprised of nerve-ending, glands and blood vessels. The bump is simply an overgrowth of the  dermal layer’s tissues.

Some medical experts also call dermatofibroma as histiocytoma and define it as common cutaneous nodule, which affect women more than men. Mainly found in dermis, dermatofibroma can happen to both adults and children. However, in children, this condition is rarely found.

Dermatofibroma appears grey, red, pink or brown, and there could be change in color over the period of time. Upon touch, they feel like hard mass beneath the skin and on pinching from the sides, its center of the growth is found dimpling inwards.

Picture : Dermatofibroma pinch sign

Features of Dermatofibroma

  • There is little or no pain in case of dermatofibroma.
  • Nevertheless, in some rare cases, it is tender and the patient may complaint itching.
  • While in most of the cases, the nodule of dermatofibroma is single in number, in a rare case, patients may develop multiple nodules (dermatofibromas).
  • The size of nodule is small to medium not measuring bigger than ½ inch in diameter.

Dermatofibroma Causes

The causes of dermatofibroma are not known. It is idiopathic condition. However, dermatofibroma bump may appear after a minor injury to the skin. This may include some insect bite or pricking of a thorn.

Who are at risk of developing Dermatofibroma

The factors mentioned below increase the chances to have dermatofibroma bump developed.

  • Gender: women are more susceptible to develop dermatofibroma bump as compared to their counterparts, men.
  • Age: the bump of dermatofibroma is seen in adults. The condition is quite rare in children

Signs and Symptoms

Though the bumps rarely cause any problem, below mentioned are the signs and symptoms found dermatofibroma.

  • Dermatofibroma is reddish brown in color but are darker in patients with dark skin tone
  • The color of dermatofibroma may change over time
  • Commonly, dermatofibroma occur on the lower extremities but can also happen on the torso
  • Generally, they are 3-10 mm in size
  • Dermatofibroma bump is hard in touch
  • When touched, dermatofibroma is sensitive and tender
  • Sometimes, these bumps produce itching
  • If they are shaved over, they may burst and bleed

Diagnosis of Dermatofibroma

The diagnosis of dermatofibroma mainly depends on the symptoms and medical history. The health care provider does local examination to confirm the disease. It can be diagnosed with sight and light. A common practice in identifying dermatofibroma is a doctor may gently squeeze the skin over the bump. Doing this will cause a dimple in the center.

If a doctor is doubtful, he or she may prescribe biopsy of dermatofibroma. A fine needle biopsy is performed, and the content is taken to the laboratory for further investigation.

Treatment and Removal

While in rare cases, a bump may go itself, in most of the cases dermatofibroma is not self-limiting. Nevertheless, no medical treatment is actually effective. Some patients may prefer removing dermatofibroma through surgery especially the growth is bothering and is visible.

Since dermatofibroma bump is deep seated, removing it requires excision beneath the skin. In most of the cases, surgical removal of the bump leaves a permanent scar.

Another surgical option to avoid scar is the nodule is flattened and leveled with the skin surface. This is achieved by shaving off its top with a surgical scalpel. The only problem with this procedure is since the bump is not removed from the root, there are chances to regrow the bump after several years. In some rare and unfortunate cases, dermatofibroma resembles some condition associated with skin cancer. The condition is known as dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP).

Freezing as a Treatment Option

Some health care professionals use freezing technique to treat the bump of dermatofibroma. In this procedure, liquid nitrogen is used to freeze it and flatten it to the level of the skin. Nevertheless, this method leaves behind a white scar. As in flattening bump with a surgical scalpel mentioned above, this procedure too has a loophole of growing it back.

When to seek medical attention immediately?

The case of dermatofibroma does not require any medical or surgical emergencies in general. Nevertheless, you must seek professional help in case of bump bleeding profusely, bump growing unexpectedly fast or becomes intolerable.

Prognosis for Dermatofibroma

Dermatofibroma is non-cancerous growth and do not turn into a malignant tumor.

Dermatofibroma Pictures

Picture 1 : Dermatofibroma photo (pink color)

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Picture 2 : Dermatofibroma

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Picture 3 : Dermatofibroma bump (brown color)

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Note : Dermatofibroma appears grey, red, pink or brown



Published by Dr. Raj MD under Skin.
Article was last reviewed on July 28th, 2021.

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