About acanthosis nigricans

What is acanthosis nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition characterized by areas of dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases. The affected skin can become thickened. Most often, acanthosis nigricans affects your armpits, groin and neck.

The skin changes of acanthosis nigricans (ak-an-THOE-sis NIE-grih-kuns) typically occur in people who are obese or have diabetes. Children who develop the condition are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Rarely, acanthosis nigricans can be a warning sign of a cancerous tumor in an internal organ, such as the stomach or liver.

No specific treatment is available for acanthosis nigricans. Treatment of underlying conditions may restore some of the normal color and texture to affected areas of skin.

What are the symptoms for acanthosis nigricans?

Black velvetty symmetric patches on the body symptom was found in the acanthosis nigricans condition

Skin changes are the only signs of acanthosis nigricans. You'll notice dark, thickened, velvety skin in body folds and creases — typically in your armpits, groin and back of the neck. The skin changes usually appear slowly. The affected skin may also have an odor or itch.

When to see a doctor

Consult your doctor if you notice changes in your skin — especially if the changes appear suddenly. You may have an underlying condition that needs treatment.

What are the causes for acanthosis nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans has been associated with:

  • Insulin resistance. Most people who have acanthosis nigricans have also become resistant to insulin. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that allows your body to process sugar. Insulin resistance is what eventually causes type 2 diabetes.
  • Hormonal disorders. Acanthosis nigricans often occurs in people who have disorders such as ovarian cysts, underactive thyroids or problems with the adrenal glands.
  • Certain drugs and supplements. High-dose niacin, birth control pills, prednisone and other corticosteroids may cause acanthosis nigricans.
  • Cancer. Acanthosis nigricans also sometimes occurs with lymphoma or when a cancerous tumor begins growing in an internal organ, such as the stomach, colon or liver.

What are the treatments for acanthosis nigricans?

In many situations, treating the underlying problem can help fade the discoloration. Examples may include:

  • Losing weight. If your acanthosis nigricans is caused by obesity, losing weight may help.
  • Stopping medications or supplements. If your condition seems to be related to a medication or supplement that you use, your doctor may suggest that you stop using that substance.
  • Having surgery. If acanthosis nigricans was triggered by a cancerous tumor, surgically removing the tumor often clears up the skin discoloration.

If you are concerned about the appearance of your skin or if the lesions become uncomfortable or start to smell bad, your doctor may suggest:

  • Prescription creams to lighten or soften the affected areas
  • Antibacterial soaps, used gently, as scrubbing could worsen the condition
  • Topical antibiotic
  • Oral acne medications
  • Laser therapy to reduce the skin's thickness

What are the risk factors for acanthosis nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans risk factors include:

  • Obesity. The heavier you are, the higher your risk of acanthosis nigricans.
  • Race. Studies show that in the United States, acanthosis nigricans is more common among Native Americans.
  • Family history. Some types of acanthosis nigricans appear to be hereditary.

Is there a cure/medications for acanthosis nigricans?

Acanthosis Nigricans is a condition characterized by discoloration and dark patches in the armpits, neck creases, and other regions. It usually has a velvety appearance. Though it does not have any medical issue, it affects the aesthetic appearance of the person. It is commonly associated with obesity, diabetes, and other lifestyle conditions. Sometimes it is also seen along with a cancerous condition.

  • Acanthosis nigricans is not a disease in itself but a symptom, so treating the underlying condition will cure this problem.
  • More often, the changes in the blood sugar level and the amount of insulin in the blood is the major cause of this condition.
  • People with overweight tend to develop resistance to insulin over time. This creates a buildup of glucose in the bloodstream, which can lead to high levels of both blood glucose and insulin in the bloodstream
  • Excess insulin causes skin cells to reproduce at a rapid rate. For people with skin with more pigment, these new cells have more melanin, which causes skin darkening.
  • The presence of acanthosis nigricans is a strong predictor of future diabetes.
  • Certain medications can trigger acanthosis nigricans, such as: injected supplementary insulin, nicotinic acid, diethylstilbestrol, human, growth hormones, and systemic glucocorticoids.

    Cosmetic treatments include
  • Skin lighteners like Retin-A, 20 percent urea, alpha hydroxy acids, and salicylic acid
  • Topical tretinoin cream
  • Oral medications for acne
  • Laser therapy
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can usually prevent acanthosis nigricans. This includes maintaining weight at a moderate level, managing diet, and adjusting medications contributing to the condition.

Black velvetty symmetric patches on the body
Black discoloration,creaseselvetty patches and outgrowth
Treatments to help with pain and odor, such as skin creams, special soaps,Medications,Laser therapy

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