acanthosis nigricans causes and risk factors


Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition characterized by areas of dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases. The affected skin may become thickened. Most often, acanthosis nigricans affects your armpits, groin and neck.

The cause of acanthosis nigricans isn’t clear. In some cases, acanthosis nigricans may be a sign of an underlying medical disorder. If you have acanthosis nigricans, your doctor will likely check for insulin resistance and related conditions.

Acanthosis nigricans usually doesn’t require treatment. If the dark patches are bothersome or if they’re a sign of an underlying medical condition, treatment may include:

Topical medications such as alpha hydroxy acid

Retinoids such as tretinoin (Avita, Renova, Retin-A)

Creams that contain vitamin D (calcipotriene)

Prescription steroid cream (betamethasone)

Chemical peel or microdermabrasion

Acanthosis nigricans is a common skin disorder that causes dark, thick, velvety skin on body parts such as the nape of the neck, armpits, groin and elbows. Acanthosis nigricans can also develop with certain medical conditions.

The cause of acanthosis nigricans is unknown. But it’s often associated with obesity and insulin resistance, which can occur in people who are overweight or have type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is a condition in which your body doesn’t use insulin (a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar) properly.

Acanthosis nigricans has been linked to:

Obesity

Diabetes and prediabetes

Certain medications — including birth control pills, human growth hormones and certain medications for treating psoriasis

Disorders such as polycystic ovary syndrome or acromegaly

Rarely, acanthosis nigricans may be caused by an internal cancerous tumor or a hormonal imbalance.

Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition characterized by areas of dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases. The affected skin can become thickened, but usually not to the point of being raised or lumpy, as is often seen in cases of another skin disorder called lichen simplex chronicus. Acanthosis nigricans typically occurs on the sides of the neck, in the armpits, groin, under breasts and where skin rubs together like the inner thighs and buttocks.

No one knows exactly what causes acanthosis nigricans. Some cases are inherited and caused by gene mutations (familial). Others are caused by high insulin levels that may be due to:

Obesity

Insulin resistance

Diabetes

Rarely, acanthosis nigricans is caused by medicines such as oral contraceptives, nicotinic acid (niacin), growth hormone or corticosteroids. In some cases of acanthosis nigricans, doctors can’t identify a cause.

Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition characterized by areas of dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases. The affected skin may become thickened. Most often, acanthosis nigricans affects your armpits, groin and neck.

In some cases, acanthosis nigricans indicates an underlying disorder, usually involving the endocrine system. More commonly, it’s associated with obesity and insulin resistance, which is related to type 2 diabetes. In such cases, treating the underlying condition may improve acanthosis nigricans or completely resolve it.

Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition characterized by areas of dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases. The affected skin may become thickened. Most often, acanthosis nigricans affects your armpits, groin and neck.

The appearance of acanthosis nigricans is usually a sign of insulin resistance, meaning that your body can’t use insulin effectively. Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas that allows your cells to use sugar (glucose) — your body’s main source of energy. Insulin resistance can occur in people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.

If you have acanthosis nigricans, you may also be at increased risk of developing non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes). You’re also at risk of other serious health problems associated with insulin resistance, such as heart disease and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).

Acanthosis nigricans doesn’t pose any immediate health risks, but it can be unsightly. Treatment for acanthosis nigricans focuses on reducing insulin levels and improving the appearance of affected skin.

Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition characterized by areas of dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases. The affected skin may become thickened. Most often, acanthosis nigricans affects your armpits, groin and neck.

In some cases, acanthosis nigricans indicates an underlying medical condition, usually having to do with a problem with your endocrine system. For example, acanthosis nigricans is often associated with prediabetes or insulin resistance. The skin changes may also indicate a hormone-secreting tumor. Acanthosis nigricans is rare in people who don’t have an underlying medical condition.

Acanthosis nigricans can be treated with medications that lower insulin levels in your body such as metformin (Glucophage). If the cause of the condition is obesity or diabetes mellitus, weight loss and strict control of blood sugar are important treatments. In many cases, the dark patches will fade on their own if the underlying disorder is corrected.

Acanthosis nigricans is a condition that causes the skin to thicken and darken in folds around body openings and creases. The affected areas often have a velvety texture.

The condition is common, but not everyone who has it has underlying health problems. Acanthosis nigricans can be a sign of insulin resistance and prediabetes, or it can occur in people with hormone imbalances. It also can be associated with certain cancers.

It’s important to find out if acanthosis nigricans is related to just skin changes or if there are health concerns that need treatment.


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