acanthosis nigricans

Credit: regionalderm.com

What is Acanthosis Nigricans?

 This is a condition that develops on the skin along the folds of the body (neck, armpit, crotch). The affected areas tend to darken (hyperpigmentation), also causing the skin to thicken into a soft, velvety texture (hyperkeratosis). These signs could indicate early symptoms of one of the many conditions such as obesity, hyperthyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or even diabetes.

As such, Acanthosis Nigricans is not regarded as a disease in itself, rather an indication of another condition, which could allude to diabetes; therefore should be a potential warning when looking for signs of diabetes.

There are many varieties of Acanthosis Nigricans; while the diabetes-related type is referred to as obesity-associated Acanthosis Nigricans. It is most commonly found in overweight or obese people, and its manifestation is due to the increasing insulin resistance within the body, a precursor to pre-diabetes and full-blown type-2 diabetes.

 Initial diagnosis can be done by visual confirmation of the affected areas of skin by a doctor. Although blood and skin tests can be conducted, visual diagnosis should allow for a doctor to rule out other possibilities such as PCOS or medication that has been known to produce it.  

Obesity-related Acanthosis Nigricans is treated by losing weight through physical activity and regulating eating habits through a low-insulin diet that is appropriate for diabetics and pre-diabetics to adhere with. Through the recommended course of treatment, the affected areas would return to its original condition.

Another form of Acanthosis Nigricans is the malignant kind. Usually affecting patients over the age of 40, malignant Acanthosis Nigricans is an indicator of an internal malignancy such as cancer of the gastrointestinal tract or uterus. Other less common cancer varieties such as cancer of the ovary, breast, lung, and prostate are also known to be related to malignant adenocarcinoma.

Regardless of the cause of Acanthosis Nigricans, if you suspect that you have the condition you should see a doctor immediately in order to obtain a further diagnosis. The information in this article is meant for informative purposes only, and does not constitute medical advice of any sort. A licensed medical professional should always be consulted in case of a suspected condition or disease of any sort.