Dermatofibroma is a condition wherein benign growths develop on the skin tissue. These growths are tender to the touch and appear singularly or in groups and linger for long periods of time. The fibrous skin growths sometimes occur right where an insect bite is found. They commonly appear on the arms and legs.
Dermatofibroma is more of a cosmetic concern than a health problem, which is why treatment is only done when the growths have become painful. Even so, some people still choose to have it removed not only because it looks unsightly but because of the discomfort it could cause. The benign growth can be removed through surgery or freezing using liquid nitrogen.
Why do fibrous benign growths develop?
The reason behind dermatofibroma or fibrous histiocytoma is not yet clearly understood. Studies showed that fibrous histiocytoma develop as a result of cell overgrowth on the dermis, or the layer of the skin that is made up of connective tissues. It is not known why this occurs but experts believe that cellular changes cause the cells to grow and divide abnormally. This is the reason why these growths recur at the same site even after it has been removed. Fibrous histiocytoma has been found to form after a minor skin injury or insect bite.
Research revealed that the condition is 4 times more common in women than in men. Anyone can develop fibrous histiocytoma but it has been found to more frequently affect young adults than children.
How does Dermatofibroma look like?
The benign growths of fibrous histiocytoma contain histiocytes and collagen. They usually appear in singles but they could also develop in clusters or groups with an irregular pattern. Among the characteristic features of dermatofibroma are:
These non-cancerous growths are usually small, measuring anywhere between 0.5 and 1.5 centimeter. However, they could be bigger in some individuals. They usually develop on the lower legs but could appear on the trunk and arms too.
The growths are usually red-brown but they could also appear in yellowish-brown or flesh hues. They seem darker on people with dark skin tones. The area around the benign growths may appear pinkish, brownish or purplish.
Dermatofibroma are painless but firm and tender. They become painful when pressed or touched. They are sometimes itchy and could have a shiny or dull surface.
Fibrous histiocytoma does not usually cause other symptoms but the condition persists for several years and even for life. One should keep from cutting the growth in an attempt to get rid of it. It is best to have a qualified doctor check and treat it properly.
When is treatment needed for Dermatofibroma?
Fibrous histiocytoma is harmless and does not become cancerous even if left untreated. But the fact that it could be unsightly and cause some pain or discomfort when touched or pressed, that treatment becomes a necessity. Treatment is also required when the bump grows quickly and starts to bleed. A qualified doctor can diagnose the condition by simply inspecting and touching the bump. He or she may try to squeeze it to induce a dimple to form. If the doctor is still unsure, a skin biopsy is done to confirm the condition.
Dermatofibroma is harmless but often comes back over and over again. Removing the entire lump as well as the surrounding subcutaneous fats will completely prevent fibrous histiocytoma from growing back. The doctor will need to take into account other possible serious skin problems or cancer before removing the growth.
Removal and treatment
The standard procedure for dealing with dermatofibroma is to ignore it. Individuals who have this kind of benign skin growth should not bother with treatment because it is harmless and does not lead to cancer. But if it is causing undue distraction and discomfort, especially when shaving or wearing clothes, the patient will definitely benefit from treatment. One should always remember that these non-cancerous growths may still grow and develop in other parts of the body especially after an insect bite or minor skin injury.
Treating dermatofibroma involves removing the benign skin growths. This is can be done in two ways:
This removal procedure involves freezing and destroying the growth using liquid nitrogen. The cooling agent will destroy the cell. But this removal procedure is only superficial, which means only the upper part of the growth is removed. The deeper part of the growth remains and may become active again and start to grow over time, hence, requiring the procedure to be repeated. Cryosurgery will leave a white scar on the affected area.
Surgery will completely remove the entire growth. The surrounding subcutaneous fats are removed as well. Because the bump has grown deep, the procedure will leave a permanent scar. However, the chances of complication are minimal. The procedure is done under local anesthesia.
Those who are afflicted with the condition should seek professional advice before removing dermatofibroma to prevent unwarranted complications from happening.