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What is dermatosis papulosa nigra?

DPN is a benign (non cancerous) skin condition common among blacks and manifests usually as multiple, small, smooth , firm black or dark brown (darker than normal skin). It occurs most commonly on the face, necks and upper trunk. It occurs in up to a third of black people. It is also common in Asians especially the darkly pigmented ones. It starts in adolescence and increases in number with age. It is more common in black females. And it is less common in blacks with a fair complexion.

What causes it?

The cause is not known. It is believed that there is genetic predisposition as there is a positive family history in up to half of patients. It also believed that it is from an abnormality in the development of the hair follicle.


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What symptoms will you have?

It is asymptomatic. The only concern is the undesirable cosmetic appearance especially as it begins to increase with age on the face

What tests do I need?
The diagnosis is made clinically so there is no need for a test. But if you are concerned other than its appearance, then an excision biopsy of one of the lesions will establish the histological diagnosis. Histologically they look like seborrhoeic keratosis or senile warts which are benign 'stuck on' lesions which is thought to be part of the skin ageing process