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Acanthosis nigricans


Disease: Acanthosis nigricans Acanthosis nigricans
Category: Dermatological diseases
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Disease Definition:

Acanthosis nigricans is a condition in which the skin becomes dark, thick and velvety in the creased and folded parts of the body such as the armpits, groin and neck.

Acanthosis nigricans doesn't have a specific treatment. This may cause a person with this condition to become concerned about the appearance of their skin, however, some options are available in order to help lighten the affected areas of the skin.

Acanthosis nigircans may go away in case any of its underlying conditions are treated, such as obesity or diabetes.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


The only signs of acanthosis nigricans are significant skin changes. As mentioned before, a person may notice dark, thick and velvety skin in their body folds and creases. Although in some cases this condition may affect the lips, palms or soles of the feet, however, the most affected areas are the neck, groin and armpits.

The changes in the skin usually appear slowly, sometimes over months or years. Additionally, in some rare cases, itching may occur in the affected areas.


Being overweight or having high insulin level in the blood, like type two diabetes, could cause acanthosis nigricans. If the patient’s insulin level is too high, then the excessive insulin may stimulate a sort of activity in the skin cells, eventually causing changes in the skin. In other cases, acanthosis nigricans may be inherited.

Certain medications can also contribute to this condition, such as human growth hormone, birth control pills and large doses of niacin, as well as other hormonal problems such as endocrine disorders or tumors. In some rare cases, certain types of cancer may cause acanthosis nigricans.





As mentioned before, treating the underlying conditions of acanthosis nigricans usually puts a stop to this condition. Additionally, changes in a person's diet may help, as well as losing weight in case the person is overweight.

A person may be prescribed a cream or lotion in order to help lighten the affected areas. Some of the things that may help include:

  • Oral medications, such as isotretinoin
  • Lotions that contain modified vitamin A products, such as tretinoin
  • Fish oil supplements

In order to reduce the thickness of certain affected areas, a person may undergo laser therapy or dermabrasion.


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