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Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra (DPN)

What is dermatosis papulosa nigra?

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra (DPN) are small smooth brown or black spots that are on the skin around the face and neck.  The number of papules can range from a few to many, and tend to grow number and size as a person matures.  DPNs are more common in brown and black skin types, and usually affect women more than men.  The spots are not medically concerning. Therefore, DPNs are treated cosmetically.  Often called moles, the lesions are not true moles, rather more similar to a seborrheic keratosis (benign lesion).

What is the cause?

The cause of dermatosis papulosa nigra is unknown. They are suspected to have a genetic link.

How do I know if I have it?

The appearance and distribution of DPN provide a clinical diagnosis. Therefore, rarely, does it need to be biopsied.

What is the treatment?

Dermatosis papulosa nigra is a benign skin condition that requires no medical treatment.  Some patients choose to have the spots removed cosmetically.  In our office, World’s Famous Dermatologist, we inject a local anesthetic. Using electrocautery (burning), we remove the DPNs. The goal of cosmetic removal is to decrease the number of DPNs and minimize their appearance, but it is not likely to remove all of them.

Complications of cosmetic removal of DPNs include: pigmentation defects, scarring, and keloids. Because of this, we discuss and consider the side effects before removal. Additionally, we discuss the cost for removal with a provider. Depending upon the number and location(s) of the DPNs, cost will vary.