Dark skin pimples

“I have black pimples on my face like Morgan Freeman - what are they and how do I get rid of them?”

Morgan Freeman is best known for his smash hit movies such as Shawshank Redemption and Invictus. However, to dermatologists he is also known for the small black spots on his face. Maya Angelou and Bill Cosby are other celebrities with a similar problem.

These are harmless, superficial overgrowths of skin with a ‘stuck-on’ appearance known as dermatosis papulosis nigra or DPN. They are not cancerous and do not have cancerous potential.The exact cause of these lesions remains unknown although it appears to have a strong genetic background. They generally start any time from puberty and can increase in number over time. Both men and women are affected.

DPNs tend to occur on the face (cheeks and around the eyes), neck and occasionally trunk, varying in size from a few millimeters to 1-2 cm.They are believed to be the equivalent of seborrhoeic or senile warts but DPN appears in darker skin types, mainly Black, Latinos and Asians.

Large numbers of DPN lesions may appear with time and are generally more of a cosmetic concern. Occasionally DPN may become itchy or catch on clothing or jewelry and become inflamed.

DPN may be removed by a number of methods including careful application of trichloracetic acid (a type of peel), gentle freezing with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy), electrocautery, laser or superficial excision (curettage) depending on the size and number of lesions to be removed.

Whichever method is used, always request your dermatologist treats a small test patch in a discreet area, as there is a small risk of developing a patch of lighter skin (hypopigmentation) with any of these techniques.

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