Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra Or Freckles, Which Is It?


If you’ve got a darker skin type, have had a clear complexion all your life and now, seemingly out of nowhere, are developing what looks like “freckles”. They might actually be dermatosis papulosa nigra, – or DPN for short.


When does Dermatosis Papulosa occur?

DPN usually develops in your twenties, occurring in clusters around your cheeks and around your eyes. As they’re genetic, they tend to run in families. They’re caused by a buildup of epidermal cells and form on the surface of your skin as brown or black-coloured growths. Initially, they are flat and as tiny as a pinpoint but can eventually grow as large as up to 3 mm and become raised.


Once DPN is the beyond the “freckle phase”, people start mistaking them for warts or moles, but they’re actually neither. Unlike warts, they’re not viral, so you can’t “catch” them. And unlike moles, they don’t carry a risk of turning cancerous. They’re also incredibly superficial. A mole’s cells run all the way down into your dermis but DPN sits right up on the surface. If anything, they grow larger there but don’t extend into the deeper layers of your skin.


Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra – Slow them down

 Many people have DPN and aren’t bothered by it in the least. In fact, it just adds to their charm and Morgan Freeman is a prime example. Still, if you consider them unwelcome, there are several things you can do to slow down their occurrence and the first it to get serious about sunscreen. Unprotected UV exposure can cause DNA changes in your skin cells, causing them to grow faster as well as darker. As a dark-skinned person, you naturally do have more “built-in” UV protection, but in this case, you’re really going to have to be vigilant. A top pick would be something like Lamelle Nourish Multi-Active Sun 30. It offers broad-spectrum sun protection, guards your skin against DNA damage and features Pycnogenol, an extremely potent antioxidant.


Two other topicals that can help slow down DPN’s progression? Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and retinol. You’ll find them in high concentrations in cosmeceutical skincare products like Neostrata Refine Gel plus 15 AHA that contains 15% glycolic acid and SkinCeuticals Retinol 1%.


Say goodbye for good to dermatosis papulosa nigra

If you’re bothered by your DPN, you’ll be glad to know that laser treatment is a quick and easy way to remove what you have for good. Should more occur later on down the line, you can simply repeat the treatment. Still, it’s not just a matter of walking into a laser clinic. Not all lasers are recommended for darker skin types as many run the risk of burning, scarring or creating post-inflammatory pigmentation. This is why it’s important to find a clinic that understands dark skin and a variety of lasers, including those that are “colourblind”. Laser Genesis is a prime example in that it’s perfectly safe and effective to use on skin of all colours, including very dark.


Do they just fall off?

Initially, straight after the procedure, your DPN might get a little darker. Eventually fading away, but this process can be sped up if your skin is pre-treated using a skin-lightening agent beforehand. As we said, a clinic that understands the unique needs of darker skin types will know this and you’ll be in good hands.


Final thoughts

In short, DPN isn’t freckles, but they’re just as harmless. However, if you don’t like them, there are ways to kiss them goodbye!



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