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Acanthosis Nigricans: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

Acanthosis nigricans  

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is the name given to dry, dark patches of skin that usually appear in the armpits, neck or groin.

It is a skin disorder that causes one or more areas of the skin to darken and thicken. The skin with the skin is often a little smooth.

Acanthosis nigricans is not contagious. and not harmful. Vigorous rubbing will not get rid of acanthosis nigricans.

Signs and symptoms of acanthosis nigricans


This skin condition causes some easily recognizable signs and symptoms. You may notice that your skin has acanthosis nigricans:

  • It has brown or black colouration
  • Velvety feel and thicker than surrounding skin
  • He has skin tags
  • Itch
  • Bad smell

A dark, velvety patch of skin can form on most areas of the body, including:

  • Armpit
  • The back of the neck
  • Inguinal area (upper thigh, especially in skin folds and wrinkles)
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Under the feet
  • Joints
  • Navel
  • Bottom of a woman's breasts (nipples)
  • lips
  • Hand
  • Mouth
  • Eyelids
  • Female genitals

Acanthosis nigricans appears in both men and women. It tends to appear slowly, taking months or years to form.

Causes of acanthosis nigricans


Acanthosis nigricans can affect otherwise healthy people. However, some people have a higher risk. People most at risk of developing acanthosis nigricans (AN) are:

  • Obesity or being overweight (most common)
  • Of Native American, African, Caribbean, or Hispanic descent
  • From a family with a history of acanthosis nigricans

Sometimes acanthosis nigricans is a warning sign of something going on inside the body. It could be a sign that you have:

1. Because of diabetes

If you have prediabetes, making some lifestyle changes can help prevent diabetes. If you have diabetes it is important to find out so you can treat it.


2. Because of taking some medications

Birth control pills and strong corticosteroids such as prednisone and niacin can cause anorexia nervosa. Including steroids or hormonal treatments.


3. Because of conditions that affect hormone levels

Such as Cushing's syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), an underactive thyroid gland, or a problem with the adrenal glands.

4. Because of cancer

It is rarely due to cancer. When acanthosis nigricans develops quickly, it can be a sign of cancer, especially cancer of the stomach, colon or liver.

5. Because of genetics

You can develop a defective gene inherited from your parents or grandparents, but the genetic cause is rare.

Treatment and prevention of acanthosis nigricans

Although acanthosis nigricans is usually harmless, it is best to check for any skin changes.

In rare cases, it could be a sign of something more serious, such as cancer.

If you are significantly overweight, your doctor may recommend weight loss.

Acanthosis nigricans treatment includes:

  • Skin lightening: Prescription creams, ointments, and gels.
  • Reducing the thickness of the skin: laser treatment. 
  • Reduce odor and discomfort: Antibiotics you put on the skin and antibacterial soap.
  • Help clear the skin: Retinoids may be a cream or a pill.

None of these treatments are specifically designed to treat acanthosis nigricans.

However, dermatologists have found that these can help. Sometimes acanthosis nigricans can be difficult to treat.

Dermatologists offer these tips to their affected patients:


1. Maintain a healthy weight 

Obesity is the most common cause of AN in adults and children.

Studies have found that people's skin often clears up completely with significant weight loss.

You can find out your healthy weight by calculating your BMI.


2. Consult a Doctor

Before using a whitening cream, exfoliation, or any other skin care product to fade dark discoloration, consult a dermatologist if you must use it.

These products rarely wear off and can irritate your skin, making AN worse.


3. Find out if you have a medical condition that causes AN

Diabetes and other medical conditions can cause AN. Doing things that improve the medical condition often help clear the skin.

4. Find out if a medication you are taking is causing Acanthosis nigricans

Some medicines can cause AN. Be sure to tell your dermatologist about all the medications you are taking.

If a medication is causing AN, you may be able to switch to another medication.


5. Health Check

If you suddenly see many dark, velvety spots on your skin, make an appointment immediately to see a dermatologist or primary care physician.

This could be a sign of cancer.




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