“The lump looked like an ingrown hair,” said Peeples of Fort Walton Beach. “We watched it for a couple of months. Then it suddenly became swollen, turned a weird blue color, and was painful to the touch, so I took Stella to the ER.”
The ER doctor said the lump was likely caused by carrying her heavy backpack, a condition they frequently see in kids. Stella, 9, stopped wearing her backpack for a couple of months and it seemed to resolve some of her symptoms. “The lump was still there but it wasn’t blue or causing pain,” she said.
Two months later, the lump grew again and it became red. Peeples took Stella to her pediatrician, who said it was probably a slow-growing, often a benign tumor of the hair follicle (pilomatrixoma). The pediatrician recommended removing the lump. He referred Stella to Dr. Heather Nolan, a pediatric surgeon at Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart.
Dr. Nolan said pilomatrixoma is not uncommon in kids and she sees about a dozen of these cases yearly.
“They are an abnormal growth of the tissue and we see them in different locations on the body,” she explained. “Parents should see their pediatrician if their children develop a lump or bump anywhere on their body. Sometimes pediatricians can get a sense of what it is by looking at it, but other times they need further workups, such as an ultrasound or biopsy.”
Peeples said she was glad to have a pediatric surgical team within driving distance from her home. “Stella received amazing care from start to finish,” she said. “This was her first surgery so she was scared. The care team calmed her fears by explaining why she needed surgery and what it would involve.”
Stella recovered from her surgery and is back to doing the activities she enjoys, Peeples said.