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Acanthosis Nigricans

The first documented case of Acanthosis Nigricans, a skin disorder was in 1889 in Germany. It occurs under the breast, in the folds of the neck, armpit, and groin. It may develop in other parts of the body also. It is thick, the texture is velvety and the color is dark brown. Before diagnosis, people with Acanthosis Nigricans consider the area as dirty which does not respond to normal body cleansing procedure.


Acanthosis Nigricans Symptoms

Only symptom is the change in skin which happens slowly and eventually is visible. Armpits, groin and neck folds, over the joints of the fingers and toes, these are the common areas. But in people with cancer, the skin change appears on the lips, palms, soles of the feet or other areas that are affected.


Acanthosis Nigricans Causes

A comparison of people of same weight indicates higher insulin level in people with Acanthosis Nigricans. Most possible contributory factor is eating too much of food that are high in starches and sugar which raises insulin levels. Possible causes are:


  • Associated with certain medical conditions
  • Congenital
  • Result of obesity (endocrine disorder)
  • Diabetes or pre diabetes
  • Ethnical (African descent people)
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Disorder of the pituitary gland
  • Hypothyroidism

Time to test

Affected areas may or may not itch. The skin change should prompt individuals to seek medical attention from a dermatologist.


Acanthosis Nigricans Diagnosis

For a dermatologist, a quick look at the skin would suffice. Subsequently, the dermatologist may ask for a blood test report and recommend other medical tests. These tests are to determine any medical condition. Acanthosis Nigricans is common in people with diabetes and in some cases it is a warning sign for pre-diabetes, thyroid disease and other conditions. The test result would determine treatment plan.


Treating Acanthosis Nigricans

The aim of the treatment is to get clear skin. Choice of treatment is related to underlying cause, if any. For example, if pre-diabetic, a diet to reduce insulin level is recommended. Adherence to recommended diet results in fading away of dark patches in the skin. If the underlying cause is thyroid, treating it provides desired results. Drug induced Acanthosis Nigricans fades away after avoiding the medicines. If Acanthosis Nigricans is related to underlying cancer, the condition may disappear after successful treatment of the condition.


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Bibliography / Reference

Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: November 26, 2020