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Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra

Dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN) is a benign cutaneous condition common among black-skinned people and Asian people. It is usually characterized by multiple, small, hyperpigmented, asymptomatic papules, of a stuck-on appearance, on the face, neck, chest and back. Histologically, DPN is related to seborrheic keratoses with markedly increased pigmentation of the basal layer of the epidermis.


​The condition is hereditary and usually begins in adolescence. Some people have a few isolated spots while others have hundreds of spots. Women are more likely to develop the condition than men.


DPN is not a contageous or a premalignant condition, nor it is associated with any underlying systemic disease. It is diagnosed by clinical examination and any "suspicious" lesions may require biopsy.  However, the DPN lesions show no tendency to regress spontaneously and the number of papules and their size increase with age.

The papules are symptomless but may be regarded as unsightly. The DPN lesions can be removed easily with advanced electrolysis.  With age the lesions tend to grow and occasionally they can itch.  If a lesion gets inflamed, you need to see your GP.

Treatment for dermatosis papulosa nigra, although fairly straightforward in principle, can be complicated by the fact that the condition occurs mostly in skin of people of colour, who are at a higher risk of developing pigmentation defects (lightening or darkening of the skin) and keloid scarring following treatment. 


Removing DPN lesions with advanced electrolysis is considered one of the safest options, however, it should be exercised with caution so that not to damage the surrounding skin.  It is recommended to do a trial run on one of the smallest lesions on the body to determine the client's predisposition to formation of keloids, before proceeding with the facial lesions removal.

​​When treated with with electrolysis, i.e. high frequency diathermy, the lesions detach from the skin fairly easily. The alternating current flows through a tiny probe (size of an eyelash) and melts the part of the DPN attached to the skin, which then sticks to the probe and is lifted away.

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