Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra: The unfamiliar skin condition that you may be experiencing.

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra: The unfamiliar skin condition that you may be experiencing.

By Emily Ruse, Front of House Manager

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra. Sounds like a bit of a mouthful, right? But thankfully this skin condition is a lot easier to treat than it is to say. Patients may initially present to their dermatologist with small dark coloured spots on their face, neck or upper body area and believe that they have moles. But despite their similar appearance, these lesions are not moles, freckles, skin tags or signs of melanoma. They are actually Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra (DPN), which is purely a cosmetic concern.


Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra may sound complicated, but it simply a build-up of epidermal skin cells. They are completely benign and are never cancerous or viral and they tend to develop in adolescence on mainly Black, Asian and Olive skin types however anyone may experience it.

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra is hereditary. In fact, you may hear these spots referred to as the “family moles.”

If your grandparents or parents have these spots, it is more likely that you will also develop them at some point during your life. The good news: They are completely harmless. You may find that people will refer to them as moles or warts, but they’re not viral like warts are or a sign of a possibly cancerous growth, like moles, can be. These brown spots may be as small as a pinpoint, and they don’t tend to grow much larger than three millimetres, however, in some cases, they may begin to evolve in such close proximity to each other that they eventually form one larger growth.

Since DPN is hereditary, there’s not an awful lot you can do to prevent it. However, you can slow the growth by maintaining good skincare habits, like wearing daily broad-spectrum sunscreen. UV exposure promotes DNA changes in skin cells and can advance cell growth. Time spent in the sun may also give the spots a tan, therefore, making the pigment in them darker. You can also stock up on skincare products with chemical exfoliants such as Salicylic or Glycolic acid. While this won’t prevent them entirely from popping up, it can stall them from growing larger. Using retinol products which increase cell turnover, can also help diminish the appearance of DPN – but again, it’s not a cure.

I recently spoke to our client Michaela, who visited our clinic dermatologist Dr Fatima Ahmed regarding her Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra. However, despite having visited her GP and another dermatologist beforehand, she wasn’t aware that this was the skin condition she actually had. Michaela began to develop the mysterious skin lesions at thirty years old on her neck, back and stomach and since then has undergone a seriously drawn out journey to find out what there were and how to have them treated appropriately.

“Searching the internet for answers was not helpful” she exclaimed. “Unless you know what you’re looking for it’s impossible to find anything that even mildly relates to the appearance of Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra. Straight away, I was seeing things that mentioned skin cancer and melanoma, which was scary.”

“Nobody was giving me an answer. I went to my GP, but he wasn’t willing to help as he didn’t see it as a medical problem. So, I then went to see a Dermatologist in Dover who thought they were skin tags and treated them by freezing them off. Although this helped initially, within two weeks they had grown back again. That’s when I decided to go completely private and I came to see Dr Fatima.”

dermatosis papulosa nigra before after results


Dr Fatima used our Excimer Laser to remove the Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra from Michaela’s affected areas. This is a tried and tested DPN removal treatment which ensures long-lasting results and has no more than minor side effects. The treatment consists of using a high-intensity beam of light to remove the affected areas of the skin and correct the pigmentation, while, at the same time permitting the development of new skin cells. This way, the lesions are removed, and smoother, a clearer-looking skin will emerge.

“It was painful” Michaela laughed. “Being such a vast area, it was bound to be, but Dr Fatima was amazing and regularly stopped to make sure I was comfortable – and seeing the results the pain was totally worth it.”


Book a no-obligation consultation to discuss DPN treatment and other dermatology procedures with Dr Fatima Ahmed

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Dr. Fatima AhmedMeet the expert

Dr Fatima Ahmed is a speciality doctor in dermatology and aesthetics, with special interests in acne, mole and skin lesion diagnosis.  With medical qualifications from Pakistan, Canada, the UK and USA, she achieved academic distinction at Cardiff University and received the Chancellor International Scholarship award at the University of Hertfordshire.  She has worked in South Asia, the Middle East and the UK.

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