Acanthosis Nigricans is a skin condition in which the skin of the body creases and fold become dark, thick and velvety. It is common in armpits, groin and the neck. Although there is no specific treatment of Acanthosis Nigricans, these skin areas may be lightened to fade these changes.
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The only sign of Acanthosis Nigricans is the dark skin changes. The skin of body folds and creases become dark, thick and velvety especially, in the armpits, groin and the neck. Also, the skin of the palm of the hand or the sole of the foot may show these changes.
Acanthosis Nigricans is a slowly progressive condition. It takes long time, months or even years, until these changes are visible. In some cases, the skin of these areas may be itching.
Acanthosis Nigricans, in most cases, is just a cosmetic problem.
In general, Acanthosis Nigricans is associated with the conditions in which there is increased level of insulin, a condition called insulin resistance, as in Diabetes Mellitus Type II or obesity. Insulin is an essential hormone in your body secreted by your pancreas to facilitate the entry of glucose into your body cells. When insulin fails to do its job, your pancreas secretes more insulin aiming to enhance its function. The excess insulin in blood affects the skin cells and triggers the occurrence of these changes in the skin.
Insulin resistance is sometimes inherited, and in other cases, it is caused by drugs such as oral contraceptive drugs or excess Niacin (Vitamin B3). It may be associated with some types of cancer but, it is rare.
A risk factor is a character which if it is present in a person, it increases the possibility of the occurrence of Acanthosis Nigricans. People with dark skin of any age are the most liable to suffer from Acanthosis Nigricans.
Acanthosis Nigricans is diagnosed through detecting the characteristic skin changes during skin examination. Sometimes, skin biopsy is obtained for lab examination.
If the cause of Acanthosis Nigricans is unclear, other investigations may be required such as blood test, X-ray and other test to identify the underlying cause.
There is no specific treatment for Acanthosis Nigricans. However; if the underlying cause is treated, this may help the skin changes to fade. Weight loss and treating your state of insulin resistance are the most effective ways to make these dark skin spots fade. If the treatment doesn’t make your skin condition better, your doctor may prescribe any of the following medications to help fade your dark skin:
Useful External links for Acanthosis Nigricans:
- Modified Vitamin A Products
- Oral medications such as Isotretinoin (Sotret, Accutane).
- Fish Oil Supplements.
- Laser therapy or Dermabrasion which help to decrease the thickness of the skin. They are a cosmetic procedure done by a certified dermatologist.
- Anti-bacterial soup or topical anti-biotic, as sometime there is a bad odor originating from the thick lesions.