27 May 2019


Acanthosis Nigricans is a skin disorder identified by dark and velvety discoloration in body parts where there is a crease or a fold like armpits, neck and groin. The skin in these areas gets thickened. Children who suffer from this condition have a higher risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.
Unilateral Acanthosis Nigricans is when the symptoms appear on only one side of the body.


Hormonal Disorders: People suffering from conditions like ovarian cysts, Addison’s disease or Hypothyroidism often develop Acanthosis Nigricans.

Cancer: Lymphomas and carcinomas can also cause Acanthosis Nigricans.

Insulin Resistance: This condition commonly affects obese people and patients with Type 2 diabetes.

Genetics: There is a possibility of getting this disorder from birth but it majorly gets developed during childhood and later stages of life.

Use of Medication: Medications like steroids, birth control pills and some dietary supplements may lead to the onset of Acanthosis Nigricans.


Hyperpigmentation: In this stage, some areas of skin becomes pigmented and turn brownish, blackish or greyish.

Hyperkeratosis: This stage is where the patient’s skin gets thicker and appears velvety. Gradually, the skin also becomes deeper and wart-like growths appear.

Other than these symptoms, dryness, itchiness, excessive roughness and unusual odor can also be observed. Severe skin changes happen in the malignant Acanthosis Nigricans than the benign form.


Skin examination is the only method to detect Acanthosis Nigricans where a small sample is taken for biopsy. If the reason for Acanthosis Nigricans is not clear, the doctor may suggest other blood tests or X-ray to find the cause.


Primarily, the doctor starts the treatment regime by treating the underlying cause which can reduce the discoloration. For example:

  • Treating Addison’s disease and stabilizing other hormones
  • Treating cancer through surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy
  • Stopping the intake of medications that might cause this disease
  • Weight Loss
  • Cosmetic procedures like laser therapy, prescription creams to soften the skin and lighten the discoloration
  • Oral medications
  • Antibacterial soaps


  • Obesity
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Genetics
  • Medications and supplements
  • Ethnicity


  • This condition is common to Hispanic, African, Caribbean and Native Americans.
  • The prevalence rate of this disease in Type 2 diabetes patient is approximately upto 17%.

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