Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra White Skin: What Is It?
The term “white skin” describes a condition where the pigment cells (melanocytes) are less active than normal melanin production. This results in reduced pigmentation compared to other people with fair or light complexions. The skin may appear pale and/or dull due to lack of pigmentation. It is usually not painful but it does cause some discoloration of the skin and hair follicles. It is often mistaken for age spots, freckles, acne scars, sun damage or even albinism.
It is also known as ichthyoses of color and vitiligo. A person with this condition will have little to no melanin production in their skin. They may still possess a fair complexion and red hair because they do not produce enough melanin to darken the hair.
However, when exposed to sunlight the skin turns yellowish-brown.
In rare cases, this condition can occur in combination with another genetic disorder called erythropoietic protoporphyria. EPP causes the body’s immune system to attack healthy cells rather than attacking cancerous cells. If both conditions exist together, then the resulting disease is known as eumelanin deficiency.
People with this condition are generally unable to tan properly and may develop skin cancers such as basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.
While other medical conditions and disorders can cause some of these effects, they are not a true cause of white skin.
What Are the Types of Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra?
There are several different types of dermatosis papulosa nigra that are distinguished by their causes and symptoms.
1. Unifocal: This type is more common in women between the ages of 20 and 40.
It is caused by a blockage of the skin’s pores that prevents normal exfoliation. This results in small, darkly pigmented bumps (known as hyperkeratotic papules) that resemble acne or large freckles. There are no scaling or itching symptoms with this condition and it is usually painless.
2. Bifocal: This condition is similar to the unifocal type but it also causes dark, rough patches (known as hyperkeratotic plaques) to form as well as bumps.
3. Seborrheic-like Dermatosis: This condition involves the scaling and redness that are associated with seborrheic dermatitis rather than the dark spots seen with the other types.
4. Palmar-Plantar: This condition is much less common and is primarily limited to the bottom of the feet and the palms of the hands.
It causes scaling, peeling, redness and even calluses to develop on these areas. It can also affect other areas of skin that rubs against clothing or other objects.
What Causes Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra?
Most people who suffer from this condition have no known cause for their white skin or are only aware of a minor factor such as sunlight or heat. In most cases, the condition is caused by a combination of several factors and the body’s immune system malfunctioning. It is important to note that it is not contagious and will not spread from person to person like a virus or bacterial infection.
In some cases, hormonal imbalances can contribute to the development of white skin patches. For example, women who experience puberty over the age of 30 may notice the onset of these patches around this time. Pregnancy can also cause the condition to worsen in some women.
White skin patches may also appear in those who have a family history of this condition or suffer from an abnormality in their genetic code.
It is important to note that people with palmar-plantar types of this condition are more likely to have lung and colon cancer.
Sources & references used in this article:
Dermatosis papulosa nigra. by PE Grimes, S Arora, HR Minus, JA Kenney Jr – Cutis, 1983 – europepmc.org
Dermatosis papulosa nigra by MA HAIRSTON, RJ REED… – Archives of …, 1964 – jamanetwork.com
Dermatosis papulosa nigra in Dakar, Senegal by SO Niang, A Kane, M Diallo, F Choutah… – International journal …, 2007 – Wiley Online Library