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Black dots under the eyes

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 2 minutes read

If you have dark brown or black lumps, tiny in size and multiple in number, sitting on the cheekbones and under the eyes, it’s likely you have dermatosis papulosa nigra. Despite the grand title, these are completely harmless.

These usually feel smooth and soft and are each only 1 to 5 mm wide, and you may have a few or many, of differing sizes. They appear from the teenage years onwards and don't usually cause any symptoms, but some find them unsightly, especially with their prominence on the face.

Doctor’s advice

How is this condition treated?

There isn't any treatment per se, but a dermatologist may choose to treat them surgically. This condition is more common in those of Afro-Caribbean descent and women get them more often than men. They often run in families.

These are thought to be similar to seborrheic keratoses, harmless brownish spots that appear anywhere on the body, but dermatosis papulosa nigra tend to appear much earlier in life. They are not contagious, and can't be passed to others.

Healthwords pharmacists' top tips

There are some treatments that can be used to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation associated with dermatosis papulosa nigra. Aside from using make-up that contains sun protection, you can use creams such as Fade Out that are available from pharmacies and popular health and beauty retailers.

Fade Out cream can be applied daily, and is formulated with SPF 15 for UVB protection plus UVA protection to prevent the aging and skin darkening effects of the sun. It contains extracts of mulberry and licorice that penetrate deep into the skin's outer layers, working together to help reduce the production of melanin, our natural pigment. It also contains niacinamide (Vitamin B3) to help to inhibit the transfer of melanin to the upper layers, where it would become visible on the skin’s surface.

Other products such as Bio-Oil can also be used since it is formulated specially to help improve the appearance of scars, stretch marks and uneven skin tone through regular use.

When should I see my doctor?

If you are unsure of your diagnosis, you should book a routine appointment with your doctor, who will consider your symptoms and examine you. If one of the spots has changed or looks different from the others, you should book an urgent appointment in case this needs a specialist opinion.

You should seek a dermatologist consultation if you wish to discuss any other treatment or surgical options.

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This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
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