Acanthosis nigricans

  insulinAcanthosis nigricans Description, Causes and Risk Factors: Alternative Name: Pseudoacanthosis nigricans. Abbreviation: AN. Acanthosis stands for an increase in the thickness of the stratum spinosum of the epidermis. Acanthosis nigricans is a disorder that may begin at any age. Sometimes acanthosis nigricans is congenital. It causes velvety, light-brown-to-black, markings usually on the neck, under the arms or in the groin. Acanthosis nigricans is most often associated with obesity. Causes and Risk Factors May Include: The disease mainly affects people with higher levels of insulin. Excess insulin results in production of melanocytes, cells that are the cause of pigmentation in humans. A high insulin level can result from a number of disorders like pre-diabetes, diabetes and insulin resistance.
  • The disease can also arise from endocrine disorders resulting from obesity. Many obese people suffer from diabetes and endocrine disorders which can trigger Acanthosis Nigricans.
  • Addison disease, a condition caused by a deficiency of hormones from the adrenal gland.
  • Disorders of the pituitary gland within the brain.
  • Low levels of thyroid hormone caused by decreased activity of the thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).
  • Some drugs, particularly hormones such as human growth hormone or oral contraceptives can also cause acanthosis nigricans.
  • People with cancers of the gastrointestinal or genitourinary tracts or with lymphoma can also develop severe cases of acanthosis nigricans.
  • Rarely acanthosis nigricans is associated with a tumor, most commonly of the stomach or gut. Occasionally acanthosis nigricans is congenital or due to an endocrine (glandular) disorder.
Symptoms: Itch, painless area of darkened, slightly raised skin.
  • The skin is darker and thicker in certain areas. These areas may be light-brown to black in color.
  • Acanthosis nigricans generally appears slowly, sometimes over months or years causing no symptoms except skin changes.
  • Skin turns dark,velvety with very visible markings and creases appears in the armpits, groin and neck which is painless. Sometimes, the lips, palms,soles of feet, or other areas may be affected. These areas may be light-brown to black in color.
Diagnosis: AN can be diagnosed by a doctor through a medical history and physical examination. Blood work might be done to investigate the cause of acanthosis nigricans. Occasionally a skin biopsy is performed to get a detailed look at the tissue in a laboratory. Treatment: Treatment Options: The most effective treatment is obtained through weight loss and exercise. Eating a healthy diet can help reduce circulating insulin and can lead to improvement, and sometimes resolution, of the skin problem.
  • Diet modification is also among the most effective Acanthosis Nigricans treatments. Obese and diabetic patients should incorporate low-calorie foods into their diet. The individual should also cut down on his or her carbohydrate intake. A low-calorie and low-sugar diet is seen as an effective cure for Acanthosis Nigricans. Dietary modifications can help both Acanthosis Nigricans children and adults recover within a month.
  • If the patient is obese then lose weight can be the appropriate way of treating it.
  • Treatment to just improve the appearance includes Retin-A, 20% urea, alpha hydroxyl acids (AHAs), and lactic or salicylic acid prescriptions.
  • The disorder can be treated by correcting hyperinsulinemia through diet and medication.
NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care. Read about Diabetes type 2.


  1. Anu

    Doctor tell me that I am suffering from pseudocanthosis Nigricans skin problem. I am obses. My weight is 104 kg. I have dark black patches in both chicks and neck also. Kindly suggest me any treatment

    • maisteri

      There is no treatment for acantosis nigricans. The main goal should be the treatment of the underlying cause. So in case of acantosis nigricans associated with obesity losing weight is probably the best option to get rid of the skin discolouration.


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