What is dermatosis papulosa nigra?
Dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN) is a harmless skin condition that tends to affect people with darker skin. It consists of small, dark bumps that usually appear on your face and neck. While some people only develop a few bumps, others have many.
What does it look like?
The small black or dark brown bumps caused by DPN are usually smooth, round, and flat. They range in size from 1 to 5 millimeters.
Over time, the bumps can become rougher looking. Sometimes the lesions have small flaps attached that look like skin tags. These are called peduncles.
While the bumps usually pop up on your face and neck, you might also notice them on your upper back or chest.
DPN usually starts during adolescence. As you get older, the bumps tend to grow bigger and increase in number.
What causes it?
Healthcare providers aren’t sure about the exact cause of DPN. However, the darker your skin is, the more likely you are to develop it. It also seems to be hereditary in many cases.
How is it treated?
DPN is harmless and doesn’t require treatment. However, if the bumps become itchy or you don’t like their appearance, there are a few options for removing them.
In some cases, the bumps caused by DPN can be surgically removed through the following techniques, which are usually done with topical anesthesia:
- Curettage. This involves scraping away the bumps with a small scooping instrument.
- Electrocautery. This involves using a small probe with an electric current to burn away the bumps.
- Cryosurgery. This involves freezing off the bumps using liquid nitrogen.
Keep in mind that these treatments may leave scarring. They also won’t stop new bumps from appearing.
Laser therapy uses different frequencies and levels of light to remove growths. Several types can help to remove or reduce the appearance of DPN growths, including:
- Carbon-dioxide laser. A 2016 study found that this type of laser therapy was a safe and effective option for DPN with a low chance of recurrence.
- Long-pulsed neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet lasers (Nd:YAG lasers). In a 2015 study involving 60 people with DPN, Nd:YAG laser therapy provided a 75 percent improvement in the number of bumps and their sizes. The same study also found that results were best after doing two sessions.
- KTP laser. This method uses a potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP) crystal along with a Nd:YAG laser.
Work with your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment option for the size of your bumps and your skin type.
Living with DPN
DPN is a common, harmless skin condition that doesn’t require medical treatment. However, if the bumps bother you, there are several procedures that can remove them or reduce their appearance.