Dermatosis papulosa nigra is a skin condition affecting the skin on the neck and face, particularly around the eyes and on the cheeks and forehead. The main symptom is small dark papules (spots) that are anywhere from 1 to 5 millimeters in diameter. The color of the spots is typically black or brown. In some cases, you’ll find the spots on the chest and back of the person as well.
It is more common for dermatosis papulosa nigra to affect people with darker skin, such as African Americans or Hispanic Americans. It is also more common for women to get this condition versus men. As the person gets older, the number of spots on their face and neck will gradually increase. Sometimes the size of the spots will also increase too. There are different scientific theories as to why this condition occurs in some people. The most popular theory is that some hair follicles in the skin do not develop completely, which influences their function. As a result, dark papules form in those areas.
The good news is that dermatosis papulosa nigra is not dangerous. However, these spots can become aesthetically unpleasing for some people, especially as they age. This can lead patients to seek treatment or removal for cosmetic reasons.
There are three primary ways to treat the appearance of dermatosis papulosa nigra. The non-surgical method is to use liquid nitrogen to freeze the papules on the skin, otherwise known as cryotherapy. Surgical techniques involve laser therapy, cutting the papules out of the skin, or using a combination of modalities. During a consultation, your doctor should explain the risks and benefits of each modality and prescribe a treatment that will be effective for your unique skin.
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent dermatosis papulosa nigra. Genetics play a huge role in about 50% of all people who get this condition. The most recommended advice is to visit your dermatologist and learn about all your treatment options.