Dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN) is a common, benign pigmented papule (bump) condition that affects black and brown skin. Adults with dermatosis papulosa nigra have numerous, tiny, hyperpigmented, painless papules on their faces. Dermatosis papulosa nigra resembles seborrheic keratoses histologically (under the microscope).
DPN papules (bumps) are painless and do not cause ulcerations (breaks in the skin), scaling, or crusting. The bumps are about 1-5 mm in diameter and 1-3 mm high and develop during puberty as smooth, freckle-like bumps that slowly become rougher with time. They can also get larger and more numerous with time especially during a hormonal event e.g pregnancy, pre-diabetic changes, menopause etc. Although DPN spots do not improve on their own, they are benign and don’t usually need treatment. The most common reason why people desire to treat DPNs is for cosmetic enhancement and not medical necessity. DPNs are most common on the face and neck, though they may also be present on the upper back and chest. About one in four people who have facial DPN papules will also have them on their bodies.
DPN can be diagnosed during a clinical exam and does not generally need any tests. However, if there are concerns, dermoscopy may be utilized. A dermatoscope is a noninvasive and inexpensive technique for distinguishing DPN from similar skin conditions.
DPN appears to be hereditary, and there are several causes that resemble a typical harmless skin growth (Seborrheic Keratoses). The mechanisms causing DPN are unknown, however.