Cellular Dermatofibroma

A cellular dermatofibroma is a noncancerous skin growth. It may look like a small, firm bump, similar to a mole. Unlike other dermatofibromas, cellular dermatofibromas often attach to your deepest layer of skin. Because they’re noncancerous, they usually don’t need treatment.


What is a cellular dermatofibroma?

Cellular dermatofibromas are a type of dermatofibroma (noncancerous tumor). They appear as firm bumps (nodules), often on your legs.

Cellular dermatofibromas extend deeper into your skin’s layers than other dermatofibromas. Usually, dermatofibromas are superficial, meaning they grow on the top layer of skin (epidermis). Cellular dermatofibromas often grow down to subcutaneous tissue, the deepest layer of your skin.

Compared to other dermatofibromas, cellular dermatofibromas are more likely to come back (recur) after treatment. In about 1 in 10 people, cellular dermatofibromas cause necrosis in the tumor. Necrosis is tissue or cell death in a certain area of your body.


Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy

Are cellular dermatofibromas malignant?

By definition, cellular dermatofibromas aren’t malignant (noncancerous). But they’re more likely than other types of dermatofibromas to spread to other parts of your body (metastasize).

Who might get a cellular dermatofibroma?

Anyone can get a cellular dermatofibroma. Dermatofibromas are most common in people ages 20 to 49. Twice as many women as men have dermatofibromas.


How common are cellular dermatofibromas?

Dermatofibromas are somewhat common. About 3 in every 100 skin lesions is a dermatofibroma. A skin lesion is a growth, mole or sore on or in your skin.

Symptoms and Causes

What causes a cellular dermatofibroma?

About 1 in 5 people who have a dermatofibroma have had an injury or wound where the tumor forms. Sometimes, a dermatofibroma develops spontaneously, for no known reason.

People with conditions that affect their immune system may have multiple dermatofibromas in a cluster. You’re more likely to have a dermatofibroma cluster if you have:


What are the symptoms of a cellular dermatofibroma?

Cellular dermatofibromas look like small round or oval bumps. They’re usually less than 1 centimeter (cm) in diameter. They may be flesh-colored, brown or reddish-brown.

Usually, dermatofibromas form on your arms or legs. They may feel firm to the touch and can be itchy, tender or painful. Sometimes, they’re shaped like a dimple — the center of the lesion falls in, and the edges of the lesion pucker around it.

Diagnosis and Tests

How is a cellular dermatofibroma diagnosed?

To diagnose a cellular dermatofibroma, your healthcare provider starts by looking at the lesion. You may have a skin biopsy to confirm if it’s a dermatofibroma or another type of skin lesion.

In a skin biopsy, your healthcare provider removes a small tissue sample. They send your tissue sample to a lab. In the lab, a pathologist (a doctor who specializes in examining body tissues) views it under a microscope.

Management and Treatment

How is a cellular dermatofibroma treated?

Because they’re noncancerous, dermatofibromas don’t always require treatment.

If a dermatofibroma is large or causes discomfort, your healthcare provider may remove it. Removal is a short in-office procedure. They may use:

  • Steroid injections to reduce pain or lesion size.
  • Surgical excision, using a surgical tool to scrape off the lesion.


How can I prevent a cellular dermatofibroma?

There isn’t a known way to prevent a cellular dermatofibroma. Fortunately, dermatofibromas aren’t cancerous. If you get one, it rarely causes discomfort or harmful symptoms.

Outlook / Prognosis

What is the cellular dermatofibroma recurrence rate?

Cellular dermatofibromas are more likely to return (recur) after treatment than other dermatofibroma types. Other types of dermatofibromas don’t usually return after treatment. Fewer than 1 in 50 people have a noncellular dermatofibroma come back after removal.

Living With

What else should I ask my doctor?

You may want to ask your healthcare provider:

  • What’s the most likely cause of a cellular dermatofibroma?
  • Is a skin growth a dermatofibroma or another condition?
  • Do I need treatment for a dermatofibroma?
  • What are the benefits and risks of removing a dermatofibroma?
  • Is there anything I can do to prevent a dermatofibroma from returning after treatment?

Additional Common Questions

What is the difference between a dermatofibroma and a mole?

You may not be able to tell the difference between a dermatofibroma and a mole at first glance. Cellular dermatofibromas may attach to your subcutaneous tissue. If you gently pinch the skin growth, a dermatofibroma usually creates a dimple or indent. Moles stay raised above your skin’s surface because they don’t attach to the subcutaneous layer.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Cellular dermatofibromas are small skin lesions. They’re more likely than other dermatofibromas to attach to your deepest layer of skin. They’re also more likely to spread to other parts of your body. Dermatofibromas aren’t cancerous, so you don’t usually need treatment for them. If the growth is uncomfortable or bothers you, your healthcare provider may remove it. Usually, dermatofibroma removal involves a short, outpatient procedure.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/08/2022.

Learn more about our editorial process.

Appointments 216.444.5725