What is acanthosis nigricans?

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Acanthosis nigricans is a skin ailment characterized by velvety, light-brown to black marks on any location but usually on the skin folds of the armpits, neck, groin and beneath the breasts.

What are the causes?

Acanthosis nigricans can develop among healthy individuals or might be linked with certain medical ailments. Oftentimes, it is congenital.

The condition is common among individuals with darker complexion. The most prevalent type is present with ailments that are linked with an increased insulin blood level especially with obesity and diabetes.

An effective treatment for acanthosis nigricans is to cut down weight and regular exercise.

Other possible causes include the following:

  • Disorders of the pituitary gland inside the brain
  • Addison disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Growth hormone therapy
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Some medications for controlling the cholesterol level

Individuals with the skin condition have a higher insulin level than those who do not have the condition. Eating the wrong foods, particularly sugars and starches as well as being overweight can increase the level of insulin in the body.


An effective treatment for acanthosis nigricans is to cut down weight and regular exercise. A well-balanced diet can also help minimize the spreading insulin and can result to the improvement and oftentimes putting an end to the condition.

The other treatment options to improve the appearance of the skin includes alpha hydroxy acids, Retin-A, salicylic acid and urea. Laser therapy or dermabrasion might also reduce the bulky region of the affected skin.

If the condition is triggered by medication, it usually settles once the medication is no longer taken by the individual.


When it comes to cases of acanthosis nigricans linked to obesity, proper management of weight is a vital part of prevention. A diet that contributes to lower levels of insulin can also help in preventing the skin condition.

Other preventive measures include treatment of the medical conditions that are associated to acanthosis nigricans as well as avoiding medications that are likely to cause or aggravate the condition.

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