It’s a question Chroma Dermatology gets asked over and over again and that is because dermatosis papulosa nigra is just so common in those with skin of colour. The good news is that there is a way to safely remove these in people with darker skin types.

Dr. Rodrigues candidly shares her story … “I was about 26, having just started specialty training in dermatology, when I noticed small dots and moles appearing on my upper cheeks and temples. I could see that some of them were tiny raised spots (moles) while others were flat to the naked eye. Yes, I had developed dermatosis papulose nigra. The main concern was how to treat these safely in my skin type. I know first-hand the perils of having skin skin of colour. It is highly susceptible to scarring and pigment.”

So here is a little more about what those black spots on your face could be and how you can get them treated. Please note brown or black spots could also be freckles, moles (naevi), skin cancers or even uncommon conditions causing pigment to develop in the dermis (second layer of the skin). Here, in this blog, we are taking a closer look at dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN).

What is DPN?

DPN is a cluster of small 1-5mm benign spots mainly seen on the face and neck. They don’t cause any symptoms and are not cancerous but are a cosmetic concern for many people.

Who gets DPN?

DPN is more common in those with skin of colour. Ever wondered what the spots were on Morgan Freeman’s face? Yes, its DPN. And now that you know about it, you will start to see more of it in people with African skin, Indian skin and Pacific Islander skin types.

Dpn in african skin
How can DPN be treated?

DPN often co-exists with other pigment problems like melasma (hyperlink to melasma part of website) so it is important to properly assess each patient in order to determine the best treatment plan for that individual.

While scraping, laser and liquid nitrogen are sometimes used, this poses many risks in skin of colour including scarring and brown blotches.

We often use a radiofrequency device (safe in people of all ages and stages of life) to safely, quickly and effectively treat DPN. It feels like a little prick on the skin but doesn’t cause any ongoing discomfort. Treatment normally takes no more than 15minutes. It is best to consider maintenance treatment every 1-3 years to keep on top of newly developing spots.

Indian man having his dpn treated with our radiofrequency device

How does the skin look after the treatment?

Dpn-Post-TreatmentNo numbing cream or pain killers are needed for this procedure but we often use ice to help with any mild discomfort. While there is a very small risk of transient pigmentation in treated areas most people only small little mosquito bites for about 12-24 hours in treated areas followed by a small pinpoint scab. These small crusts fall off in about a week.

Quick, simple, pain-free with great results when done properly. Why wait to be spot-free when DPN can be a thing of the past!


The information contained in this blog post is intended as a guide only and should not substitute seeking medical attention. Please see your healthcare provider for more information.