Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra is one of the more common skin issues seen among African Americans, yet not much is known about this condition. What we do know is that it is more of a cosmetic concern than a medical one, as it is in no way malignant nor is it a precursor to a malignant growth. It can, however, be a cause of embarrassment and as such, many men and women afflicted with DPN seek treatment for it.
What causes Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra?
If you are African American and have reached the age of puberty, then chances are you have experienced the appearance of a number of small, brown or black bumps on your face, neck or upper trunk. They may look like common moles and their sudden appearance may have you worrying about more serious conditions, but in the majority of cases this is simply an outbreak of Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra, or DPN.
DPN is a dermatological condition that is characterized by anywhere from 1 to upwards of 50 small bumps on the surface of the skin. These bumps are generally uniform in shape and size and may increase in size as an individual ages. They are a natural byproduct of the aging process that is seen primarily in African Americans but these bumps also occur in Asians. In most cases, DPN first presents during adolescence and it is more common among women than men. DPN growths are not life threatening or painful and do not require medical treatment but some people still opt to have the growths removed for cosmetic purposes.
Dermatologists are unsure of the exact cause of DPN, though there has been some link to genetics. About 40-50% of DPN patients have a family history of the condition. As far as direct causes, there is some speculation about poor follicle development leading to the growths, but that is not definite.
Are there any treatments for DPN?
While treatment is not necessary from a medical standpoint, many patients opt to have growths on the face removed for cosmetic reasons. There are several options for removal including scraping, freezing and burning. Each of these can result in skin discoloration or the formation of hard bumps known as keloids. A less invasive approach is laser treatment. With the use of lasers, dermatologists can adjust and correct tissue flaws with pinpoint accuracy. Laser treatment is virtually painless and has no lasting side effects.
DPN or Something Worse?
Often, DPN is mistaken for other, more serious skin conditions including skin cancer. While the growths can have the same general appearance, they are usually more uniform than skin cancers. If you experience any sudden skin growth, you should always consult your doctor and get a proper diagnosis so that you can get the right treatment. This is especially important in the case of skin cancers where early diagnosis and treatment is your best chance of survival. If your doctor does determine that you have DPN, then you can you breathe easier as this is a benign condition that has no serious complications.