Causes and Treatment of Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra

Causes and Treatment of Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra affects about 35% of the African American population

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra affects about 35% of the African American population

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra is a benign skin condition that manifests as black or brown papules on the skin that are flat and raised from the surface. These mole-like bumps are usually between 1-5mm in size. They are typically seen on the cheeks, forehead, neck and torso.  For some patients, DPN occurs as under eye moles.


Dermatologists are not clear as to the exact causes Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra. One possibility is that that the pilosebaceous follicle does not develop properly.  Also, it is likely to be linked to a genetic predisposition. Research shows that 40-50% of patients have a family history of this condition.

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra has three levels of severity:

  1. Mild- less than 10 papules
  2. Moderate-more than 10 papules
  3. Severe-more than 50 papules


This skin condition occurs in about 35% of the black population and an unknown percentage of Asians. Women are usually affected more than men.  Symptoms are apparent starting in adolescence. With age, the papules increase in number and size.

The Nd:YAG laser for Treating Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra

Because DPN is a benign condition, patients seek treatment help from dermatologists for cosmetic reasons. In recent years the Nd:YAG 1064nm laser has shown to be a promising treatment for DPN. Older methods include: curettage (scraping), cryosurgery (freezing), and electrocautery (burning). However these modalities pose risks of scarring, the formation of keloids and unwanted pigmentation issues.

Because the 1064nm wavelength is safe for dark skin, the long pulse mode was studied as a way to coagulate the melanin of the dark spots and any blood vessels supporting the growth of the mole-like lesions. This coagulation results in the elimination of the resulting waste tissue by the body’s natural system.

In 2008, the Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy published a study on the use of the Nd:YAG laser in the treatment of Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra. The dermatologists involved in the research reported successful results in clearing the lesions from two patients.

In 2009, the Institute of Laser at the Sudan University of Science and Technology  also published research on using the Nd:YAG laser on 20 subjects.  The outcome was also successful in this study as well.

Los Angeles dermatologist, Dr. Umar uses the Nd:YAG laser to successfully treat  Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra, related vascular and pigmentation conditions as well as numerous other cosmetic objectives. It is safe for all skin colors while providing excellent results.

In the field of dermatology and other areas of medicine, lasers function as a non-invasive tool that adjustments and corrects tissue at very specific, microscopic lasers. There is usually very little pain involved and minimal side effects.