Everything You Need To Know About Acanthosis Nigricans

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    Acanthosis Nigricans is a skin discoloration disorder. When your skin accumulates dark patches that are thick and velvety in texture, it is called Acanthosis Nigricans. In many cases, such skin condition on the skin is followed by itchiness and has an odor. 

    Acanthosis Nigricans can signify that your body has other severe underlying health problems such as prediabetes. And the most effective treatment of Acanthosis Nigricans lies at the root of the cause. After successfully treating the root condition, most patients suffering from Acanthosis Nigricans noticed the skin patches disappear.

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    This article will talk about the symptoms, causes, and best possible treatment options for Acanthosis Nigricans. Read this carefully so that you can stay prepared to deal with Acanthosis Nigricans and can help others suffering from the same.

    What Is Acanthosis Nigricans?

    Acanthosis Nigricans is a skin condition characterized by a darkened and thickened skin, particularly in the groins, neck, and other skin folds such as the:

    • Armpits
    • Knees
    • Knuckles
    • Face
    • Elbows
    • Lips
    • Palms
    • Underneath the breasts of female
    • Navel
    • Soles of the feet

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    What Are The Causes Of Acanthosis Nigricans, And What Are The Risk Factors Included?

    When the epidermal skin cells begin to reproduce rapidly, Acanthosis Nigricans may occur. A high insulin level in the blood triggers abnormal skin cell growth and leads to Acanthosis Nigricans. Though it is rare, there are cases where the increase in skin cells results from cancer, medications, and other medical conditions.

    In detail, let’s now talk about some of the most common causes of Acanthosis Nigricans.

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    Acanthosis Nigricans & High Insulin Level:

    If your bloodstream has an excessive insulin level, Acanthosis Nigricans can frequently trigger. When we consume food, our body converts carbohydrates into sugar molecules such as glucose. Some of that glucose is used by the body cells for energy while the rest of it is stored by the body. The insulin hormone present in our body is responsible for allowing that glucose to enter the cells and use it for energy. But people with obesity problems or those who are overweight develop resistance to insulin over time. As a result, though their pancreas produces insulin, their body can’t use it appropriately. And it results in a high level of glucose buildup in the bloodstream, leading to high blood glucose and insulin in the blood.

    Excessive level of insulin leads to speeding up the reproduction of skin cells. Those reproduced new cells contain more melanin in people with more pigmented skin. That rise in melanin production creates a patch of skin that is darker than the standard skin color. 

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    Therefore, Acanthosis Nigricans is a strong prognosticator of future diabetes.

    Acanthosis Nigricans & Certain Medications 

    Certain medications can also trigger Acanthosis Nigricans, such as:

    • Contraceptive pills
    • Human growth hormones
    • Supplementary insulin
    • Nicotinic acid
    • Estrogen
    • Thyroid medications
    • Bodybuilding supplements

    All of the above medications can lead to a difference in the insulin level in your body. And Acanthosis Nigricans can occur after that.

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    What Are The Other Potential Causes Of Acanthosis Nigricans?

    In many cases, Acanthosis Nigricans occurred due to:

    • Stomach cancer
    • Adrenal gland disorders
    • Pituitary gland disorders
    • Genetics
    • Some autoimmune disorders

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    Who Are Prone To Acanthosis Nigricans?

    Both males and females can develop Acanthosis Nigricans, but it is more common in:

    • People who are overweight
    • People with ancestors from Africa, South or Central America, and the Caribbean
    • Those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic 
    • Native Americans
    • People with a family history of Acanthosis Nigricans

    What Is The Complications Acanthosis Nigricans Brings?

    If your body is developing Acanthosis Nigricans, it is evident enough that there are other health complications and underlying causes. Suppose the increased insulin level is why your body develops Acanthosis Nigricans. In that case, there might be severe complications, including nerve damage and vision problems.

    It takes some time for your body to develop Acanthosis Nigricans, mostly a few months or even years. But if you experience a sudden or rapid growth of Acanthosis Nigricans on your body, it can signify cancer. It is essential to consult a dermatologist to investigate the dark patch further once it has developed.

    How Is Acanthosis Nigricans Diagnosed?

    Your doctor can effortlessly recognize Acanthosis Nigricans by sight. If your body is developing Acanthosis Nigricans, your doctor might ask you to check for diabetes or insulin resistance. The tests might include blood tests for glucose or fasting insulin tests. If you have been following specific prescriptions, your doctor might also review such medications to see if those are contributing to the development of Acanthosis Nigricans.

    If you are taking any dietary supplements, bodybuilding supplements, or vitamins, you need to share all the details with your doctor if those are not mentioned on your prescription. In rare cases, your dermatologist might ask you to perform a skin biopsy and other tests to rule out the other causes of developing Acanthosis Nigricans.

    What Are The Treatments Available For Acanthosis Nigricans?

    While treating Acanthosis Nigricans, your dermatologist primarily targets to manage the underlying cause of the disease. Your dermatologist will give you enough information to educate you about the disease during the treatment procedure.

    General Measures Of Acanthosis Nigricans Treatment

    Lifestyle Modification:

    Your dermatologist can opt for non-pharmacological treatment such as lifestyle modification to treat the underlying causes of Acanthosis Nigricans. They can establish a healthy diet and increase your exercise to help decrease insulin resistance and keep your diabetes in check.

    Reducing The Insulin Level: 

    Your doctor might suggest Rosiglitazone and Metformin to reduce the insulin level in your body to treat Acanthosis Nigricans.

    Withdrawal Of Certain Drugs:

    If you are consuming certain drugs contributing to the development of Acanthosis Nigricans, your doctor might ask you to stop taking that drug. Your dermatologist might ask you to stop taking contraceptive pills if need be. Sometimes the use of oral contraceptives for PCOS can also lead to the development of Acanthosis Nigricans.

    Treating Acanthosis Nigricans With Tropical Solutions

    Your dermatologist might suggest topical or cosmetic treatments to reduce the appearance of Acanthosis Nigricans. Some topical creams that help you deal with Acanthosis Nigricans are:

    Retinoids With A Combination Of Tretinoin

    Topical retinoids are considered to be the first-line treatment for Acanthosis Nigricans. According to dermatologists, retinoids with the combination of tretinoin are effective for the treatment despite their mild local side effects.

    Ammonium Lactate: 

    Ammonium lactate therapy consists of applying 12% of ammonium lactate cream or lotion twice a day with tretinoin to treat Acanthosis Nigricans. Your dermatologist might ask you to use a small amount of ammonium lactate cream in the morning and a small amount of tretinoin with ammonium lactate during the night. Compared to a single agent, the combination treatment is more effective in treating Acanthosis Nigricans.


    To remove the cutaneous lesions of Acanthosis Nigricans in adults, dermatologists suggest using podophyllin. Podophyllin is a cytotoxic material widely used for different skin problems, especially for premalignant and malignant skin diseases.

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    Calcipotriene is a topical treatment option for Acanthosis Nigricans. It is believed to inhibit keratinocyte proliferation and minimize the cutaneous effects of insulin. Reports showed that after three months of using 0.005% calcipotriol cream twice daily, people with Acanthosis Nigricans could improve their condition.

    There Are Cosmetic Procedures To Help Acanthosis Nigricans

    Chemical Peel: 

    Dermatologists often suggest a combination of topical keratolytic with keratolytic chemical peels to improve long-term clinical in patients with Acanthosis Nigricans. Although chemical peels are considered cosmetic in nature, superficial chemical peels are safe and effective for treating Acanthosis Nigricans. Many patients with chemical peel therapy have seen improvement concerning hyperpigmentation, thickening, and the overall appearance of their skin. Trichloroacetic acid, an extraordinary exfoliating agent, is used to repair and rejuvenate the skin after Acanthosis Nigricans. 

    Laser Therapy: 

    Laser therapy is another modern treatment option for Acanthosis Nigricans. In laser therapy, beams of laser rays are used to lighten the darkened skin. It also helps reduce the amount of melanin by penetrating multiple skin layers. Patients with Acanthosis Nigricans get benefits and results of laser therapy with significant changes in appearance.

    How To Prevent Acanthosis Nigricans?

    Acanthosis Nigricans is a sign that your body is producing an excessive insulin level. And the insulin buildup can result in a darkened area on your skin. The best way to keep yourself protected against the development of Acanthosis Nigricans is by taking care of your overall health. Here are some of the most critical factors you need to remember to reduce Acanthosis Nigricans and prevent it.

    Food And Weight Management

    Losing weight is an essential part of many health care plans. And since Acanthosis Nigricans develops in all these people, here are a few tips you can use to keep your weight in control:

    • Try eating regular meals and eat only when you are hungry.
    • Avoid a high-fat diet and trim the fat from meats and chicken.
    • Drink low-fat milk instead of whole milk.
    • Avoid eating fried foods such as chips, French fries, etc.
    • Consume a lot of fiber from whole grains like wheat bread instead of white bread
    • Add a lot of fruits to your daily diet alongside lots of vitamins, minerals, and fiber too
    • Drink more and more water

    Exercise Daily

    Exercise is inevitable to burn up calories and help your body better use insulin. You don’t need to start by pushing yourself hard but make sure you participate in daily physical activities. You can walk, practice yoga, and choose any slow activity that raises your heartbeat for at least 20 minutes or more.

    Stop Smoking 

    Smoking tobacco leads to insulin resistance. Therefore, if you smoke cigarettes, you need to quit to help reduce insulin resistance and stay protected against further development of Acanthosis Nigricans.

    Sleep Well 

    Poor sleep may cause insulin resistance and increase the chance of developing Acanthosis Nigricans. Improving your sleep quality should help reduce insulin resistance and protect you against Acanthosis Nigricans.

    Most of the preventive measures mentioned above are associated with good health, long life, and protection against many diseases. It is better to consult with your health practitioner to know about the best options for preventive measures for Acanthosis Nigricans.

    Some Of The Common Questions Answered Regarding Acanthosis Nigricans

    Can Acanthosis Nigricans Go Away Automatically?

    Development of Acanthosis Nigricans on your body signifies that some severe underlying health conditions are causing the dark patches on your skin. And treating the underlying cause is the only way to make those dark patches fade and disappear. Losing weight also helps in fading Acanthosis Nigricans as weight loss is connected with reducing insulin resistance. You need to stop any medication causing the problem or treat diabetes and other health conditions.

    Do Having Acanthosis Nigricans Mean I Am Diabetic?

    Acanthosis Nigricans is a sign that you are diabetic or pre-diabetic. It is better to talk to your health care provider to get a proper diagnosis and care. Acanthosis Nigricans is a reversible skin condition, and it is often a sign of diabetes and prediabetes.

    My Neck Is Turning Black, Is It Acanthosis Nigricans?

    The skin around your neck is very prone to darkening for many reasons, including sun exposure, hormones, and other skin-related conditions. If the area around your neck changes its texture, such as if it is thickened and feels softer than the surrounding skin, you must talk to a health care provider as it might be Acanthosis Nigricans.

    Is Acanthosis Nigricans A Fungal Infection?

    Acanthosis Nigricans is generally found in people who are obese and have darkly pigmented skin. But Acanthosis Nigricans is not a fungal infection as it develops due to excessive insulin production in the body.

    Is Acanthosis Nigricans Normal?

    Acanthosis Nigricans is a pervasive skin pigmentation disorder experienced by obese and diabetic people. Dark patches on the skin with thick and velvety texture characterize Acanthosis Nigricans. Patients affected with AN may also have an itchy sensation or experience an odor. If someone has Acanthosis Nigricans, they must consult a health care provider immediately as the development of the dark patches may signify a more serious health problem such as prediabetes.


    A dermatologist can diagnose Acanthosis Nigricans and treat it with the best possible treatments. Many people notice their skin clears up soon after getting treatment for the condition causing Acanthosis Nigricans. Since your body weight plays a pivotal role in developing and treating Acanthosis Nigricans, it is recommended to maintain a healthy body weight. Hope this article helps you know everything about Acanthosis Nigricans and stay protected.

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