Dermatofibroma
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Dermatofibroma

(Histiocytoma; Benign Fibrous Histiocytoma)

Pronounced: der-MAH-toe-fie-BRO-ma

En Español (Spanish Version)

Definition

A dermatofibroma is an extremely common, small, firm bump on the skin, which represents an overgrowth of the tissue lying between the outer and inner layers of skin. The bump is generally pinkish-brown in color and is often found on the legs. The dermatofibroma usually occurs alone and has no symptoms whatsoever. Sometimes more than one appears. Generally, they are harmless and have no connection to skin cancer.

Layers of the Skin

Cut-away of the Skin

In dermatofibroma, the overgrowth occurs between the outer and inner layers.

© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.

Causes

The cause of dermatofibromas is unknown. They sometimes seem to appear after a minor injury to the skin, such as an insect bite or a prick of a thorn.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition. The following factors increase your chance of developing dermatofibromas:

  • Sex: women are more likely to develop this condition than men.
  • Age: middle-aged adults (dermatofibromas are rarely found in children)

Symptoms

Dermatofibromas generally cause no symptoms. However, it is always important to see a physician about any new skin growth.

Dermatofibromas are:

  • Usually reddish-brown in color
    • They are darker for individuals with darker skin.
    • The color may change over time.
  • Found most often on the legs, but may also appear on the arms or trunk of the body
  • Small in size (3-10 millimeters)
  • Occasionally itchy or sensitive when touched
  • Raised from the skin and may bleed if damaged (For example, if you shave over a dermatofibroma, it can bleed.)

Diagnosis

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam.

A dermatofibroma is diagnosed by sight. Your doctor will look at the bump and will most likely be able to identify it by the way it looks. Your doctor may also squeeze the skin over the dermatofibroma. When squeezed together, a dimple will form.

If there is doubt about the diagnosis, the bump can be surgically removed under local anesthesia (medicine just numbs the area of surgery to prevent pain) and examined more thoroughly under a microscope (a biopsy).

Treatment

Dermatofibromas do not go away by themselves. However, treatment of dermatofibromas is usually not necessary unless they are causing you some discomfort (itching or pain) or you feel they are unattractive. Dermatofibromas do not pose any risk to your health.

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

Removal

The dermatofibroma may be cut off surgically under local anesthesia. Keep in mind that because the dermatofibroma is usually deep, removal of the dermatofibroma will always leave a scar that may not be any more attractive than the dermatofibroma itself.

Freezing

Liquid nitrogen can be used to freeze the bump and flatten it out. This method usually leaves a white mark behind. Also, the dermatofibroma may eventually grow back.

Prevention

There is no way to prevent dermatofibromas.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Dermatology
http://www.aad.org

British Association of Dermatologists
http://www.bad.org.uk/about

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Canadian Dermatology Association
http://www.dermatology.ca/english

Dermatologists.ca
http://www.dermatologists.ca/index.html

References:

Dermatofibroma. Beers MH, Berkow R, eds, The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, Section 10, Chapter 125, Benign Tumors. The Merck Manual website. Available at: http://www.merck.com/mrkshared/mmanual/section10/chapter125/125i.jsp . Accessed September 12, 2005.

Dermatofibroma. British Association of Dermatologists website. Available at: http://www.bad.org.uk/patients/leaflets/fibroma.asp . Accessed September 12, 2005.

Dermatofibroma. New Zealand Dermatological Society website. Available at: http://dermnetnz.org/lesions/dermatofibroma.html . Accessed September 12, 2005.

Prieto VG, Reed JA, Shea CR. Immunohistochemistry of dermatofibromas and benign fibrous histiocytomas. J Cutan Pathol . 1995;22(4):336-341.



Last reviewed January 2008 by Ross Zeltser, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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