What is a Cutaneous Horn?
A cutaneous horn, commonly known as cornu cutaneum is a rare type of skin growth. It is usually cone-shaped, and it grows above the surface of the skin. When you look at it, you will notice that it resembles a tiny horn. At the base of the horn, it can either be cribriform flat or nodular, and it contains compacted keratin. This condition can affect anyone, but it is common to older people who are over 60 years. It affects both men and women, but men have higher chances of getting it. Individuals with fair skin have higher chances of getting a cutaneous horn.
Characteristics of a Cutaneous horn
- Most of the cutaneous horns are yellow-brown in color.
- They are curved and hard, and they are usually surrounded by a skin border that is normal or thickened.
- They have horizontal ridges on their sides that look like a terrace.
- Most of the time, the horn is two times taller the width at its base. They are different in size, from few millimeters to several centimeters.
- They look like a small animal horn.
- The cutaneous horn grows on areas of the body that are exposed to the sun like the forearms, head, ears, and the back of the hands. They are also found in the penis, shoulders, neck and chest.
- Most of them are benign, but some of them can be malignant and pre-malignant. 40% of these horns are lesions known as actinic keratosis that are pre-cancerous.
Symptoms of Cutaneous horns
Apart from the cone-shaped horn that protrudes from the skin, there are no other symptoms associated with this medical condition. The horn comes out of a bump on the skin that is red or pink.
Worrying features that suggest malignancy
It is hard to tell whether the cutaneous horn is malignant. However, malignant lesions are common in older people, especially the male. If the horn has the following features, the patient should be worried.
- Any Pain
- Big in size
- Induration at the base of the cutaneous horn
- Anatomic site especially on the penis, ears, nose, scalp, backs of hands, face and forearms.
- A bigger base or shorter height compared to the base ratio.
- Redness especially at the base of the cutaneous horn
- The lack of terrace formation, because of fast unorganized growth
Medical experts say the real cause of the cutaneous horn is unknown. These horns appear on the skin that is always exposed to the sun. Some people believe that exposure to radiation can also trigger the growth of the cutaneous horn. This has been proven right by the higher rate of this condition in the feet and hands. The feet and hands are the parts of the body that are exposed to sunlight. Recent studies show that people can get this condition from burn scars.
Cutaneous horn Pictures
Treatment for Cutaneous horn
When you discover a cutaneous horn on any part of the body, the first thing you should do is consult a doctor. The doctor will determine how to treat it. The physician will conduct several test to make sure that it is not cancer or pre-cancerous.
- If you are experiencing tenderness or sensitivity at the base of the cutaneous horn, the chances of it being malignant are higher.
- If the cutaneous horn is benign, an individual doesn’t have to worry about it. However, it is advisable to follow up with your doctor to prevent skin cancer and prevent it from reoccurring.
- When the condition has been proven to be cancerous, the individual should make sure that they go through the proper treatment to get rid of all the cancerous cells.
- After your treatment, it is advisable to protect any areas that are exposed to the sun, especially the part where the horn was treated. Ensure that you wear clothes that cover your arms and legs, put on sunglasses, wear a hat and apply sunscreen on your body when going out in the sun.
It’s hard to give a proper diagnosis by looking at the cutaneous horn. The dermatologist or physician will have to perform a biopsy. The cutaneous horn will be surgically removed, and a biopsy will be conducted on the cells.
Removal of Cutaneous horns
When the doctor discovers that the horn is cancerous or pre-cancerous, they will have to remove it immediately. The individual performing the surgery should be a qualified medical doctor or a dermatologist. The horns will be eliminated according to the category they are into.
- When removing a pre-cancerous cutaneous horn, the horn will be frozen using liquid nitrogen before surgery. The procedure is known as cryosurgery.
- A procedure known as curettage and electrodesiccation can also be performed. This will involve scrapping and burning the cutaneous horn.
- The doctor can also choose to use a topical medicine. The drug will stimulate the immune system, and the horn will be removed gradually. A topical chemotherapy agent can also be used. The anti-cancer medication is very effective in removing the cutaneous horns. When a topical cream is used when removing the horn, the patient might experience lingering redness. However, the redness fades in a short time.
- When the doctor determines that the horn is cancerous, surgery will be performed to get rid of it.
- After removal, the patient will undergo radiation therapy.
- The doctor will also perform curettage and electrodesiccation on the horn.
A cutaneous horn doesn’t look good on the body. Many people choose to remove them even if they are not cancerous or pre-cancerous. When the doctor discovers that the horn is cancerous, it is advisable to remove it quickly to avoid the spread of the disease. It is very dangerous to attempt to remove the cutaneous horn by yourself. The wound will require to be stitched after removal, something the patient cannot do. If the horn is too large, the doctor will have to do skin grafting. Chances of getting a scar after the cutaneous horn is removed are high.