What is Acanthosis Nigricans? Causes, Symptoms, & Findings


What is Acanthosis Nigricans? Causes, Symptoms, & Findings: A blog about what acanthosis nigricans is and how to diagnose it.

Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition that causes dark, thick patches to form on the skin. The condition can affect people of all races and ages, but is most common in people who are overweight or obese. The disorder usually affects the armpits, groin and the back of the neck. However, it may also be present on other parts of the body such as the palms, elbows, knees and knuckles. While this disorder is relatively harmless, it can be embarrassing for many patients who do not know what it is or how to treat it. It may also be a sign of a more serious health problem that should be treated by a doctor.

The cause behind this disorder has not been determined yet. However, there are some factors that have been known to either trigger or worsen the symptoms: diabetes mellitus 2 (Type 2 Diabetes), obesity and hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). Other factors include adrenal gland tumors (adrenal Cushing’s disease), certain medications such as birth control pills, corticosteroids and hormones used to treat prostate cancer in

Acanthosis Nigricans is a skin condition that can be an indicator of a metabolic syndrome. A scaling and darkening of the skin in certain areas such as the neck, groin, underarms, and knees.

The first step for acanthosis nigricans treatment is to identify its cause. Common causes are genetics and insulin resistance caused by obesity but there are many other possibilities too. The acanthosis nigricans causes listed here are the ones I have seen most often in my dermatology practice over the last several decades.

Genetics: Some people get it from their parents and family members. If you have it, ask your relatives if they have it too. This can help determine if you may have inherited it genetically or some other way. It is more common in people of color than whites. However, it affects both genders and all races equally. Usually presents with symmetric lesions that are darker than your actual skin color and slightly raised or thickened bumps on the surface of the skin.

Thickened scaly patches usually begin to appear on the sides of your neck (posterior auricular folds), groin area (flexural surfaces), armpits (axillary folds), and behind your knees (popliteal fossae).

Acanthosis nigricans is a condition characterized by thick, dark, velvety skin. It typically affects body folds, such as the armpits and neck. Acanthosis nigricans can affect otherwise healthy individuals, especially adolescents and pregnant women. It also can be associated with certain disorders. Treatment depends on the underlying cause.

Acanthosis nigricans is not a disease itself but a sign of an underlying disorder or condition. Although it is rare, acanthosis nigricans has been associated with certain cancers. Therefore, if you notice patches of thick velvety skin anywhere on your body, especially in the armpits or neck area, see your doctor for evaluation and treatment of any underlying conditions.

What causes acanthosis nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans usually develops slowly over time. The exact cause of acanthosis nigricans is unclear but may involve insulin resistance [insulin is the hormone that carries sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into cells] or other problems with insulin metabolism involved in type 2 diabetes mellitus [a chronic condition characterized by high levels of sugar in the blood].

Acanthosis nigricans is a condition that causes the skin to thicken and darken in the folds of the body. The most common areas affected by acanthosis nigricans are the back of the neck, armpits, groin, under the breasts, or in elbow creases. Acanthosis nigricans can also affect knuckles, fingernails, and toenails.

If you have acanthosis nigricans on your skin, you may first notice it when you look at your skin in a mirror. You may see a darker area under your skin that looks like velvet or suede. If you touch the area, it may feel like sandpaper. If a doctor examines the area, he or she will be able to tell what type of acanthosis nigricans you have by looking closely at your skin.

There are three types of acanthosis nigricans:

• Obesity-linked acanthosis nigricans (most common)

• Genetic acanthosis nigricans

• Drug-induced acanthosis nigricans

In obesity-linked acanthosis nigricans, excess insulin causes dark and thick patches to form on your skin. This type of

Acanthosis Nigricans (AN) is a skin condition that is usually associated with dark brown or black patches on the skin.

The affected areas are typically found in body folds, such as the neck, armpits, groin and under the breasts. The condition can also occur on the elbows, knees, knuckles and other areas where skin rubs together. Acanthosis Nigricans usually begins gradually and gets worse over time.

It is estimated that about 5 million people in the United States have this disease. The patches can be smooth or velvety to the touch. The color varies from light to dark brown or black. Often, acanthosis nigricans first appears as a dark patch of skin that grows slowly over time.

Acanthosis Nigricans may look similar to some types of melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancer, such as basal cell carcinoma (BCC) or squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). If you notice any change in your skin that worries you, see your doctor right away.

Acanthosis Nigricans is a skin condition that can be caused by a number of different things. It is characterized by thick, velvety, darkened skin lesions. The skin lesions are often seen in the armpits, groin area, around the neck and sometimes on the hands and feet.

The name of this skin condition comes from Greek words “acanthos” meaning spiny and “nigricans” meaning black. The skin looks like it has dark colored spines growing out of it.

Acanthosis Nigricans is rare but can affect people of all ages and races. However, it is more common in overweight people and those people who have diabetes or insulin resistance. Other causes of the disease include certain cancers like lymphoma, endocrine disorders such as Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism and Addison’s disease, medications such as nicotinic acid (Niacin), birth control pills, estrogen replacement therapy, or oral contraceptive pills and hereditary disorders such as Albright’s syndrome (McCune-Albright syndrome) where there are growth hormone producing tumors, polycystic ovary syndrome or PCOS and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (a hereditary disorder with polyps in the gastrointestinal tract along with

“Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition characterized by areas of dark, velvety discoloration in body fold areas, such as the armpits, groin and neck. The affected skin can become thickened.”

It is a relatively common condition affecting about 2% of the general population[1]. It is more common among African Americans.

It is considered a sign of insulin-resistance and can help to identify those at risk for diabetes or heart disease. Although it doesn’t cause any symptoms besides its appearance, when severe it can pose an increased risk for progression to diabetes.


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