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Acanthosis Nigricans - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Acanthosis nigricans is a skin disorder characterized by dark, thick, velvety skin in body folds and creases, caused by too much insulin in the blood. High insulin levels in the blood can lead to diabetes and other chronic health problems such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heart problems. It can occur with endocrine diseases such as Cushing disease , tumors of the pituitary , and diabetes mellitus.

It is usually classified into 2 types: a benign form and a malignant form. The most common malignancy associated with malignant acanthosis nigricans is abdominal adenocarcinoma, especially of the stomach. It is characterized by dark thickened velvety patches, especially in the folds of skin in the axilla (armpit), groin and back of the neck.

Causes of Acanthosis Nigricans:

The important causes of acanthosis nigricans are as:-

  • Heredity disorder, is the main cause of acanthosis nigricans. It is most common among people of African descent.
  • Acanthosis nigricans, is also associated with an endocrine disorder or a tumor.
  • Acanthosis nigricans is most common in dark-skinned individuals, especially those of African American descent.
  • Some drugs, particularly hormones such as human growth hormone or oral contraceptives ("the pill"), can also cause acanthosis nigricans.
  • The hypothyroidism, may also lead to the condition of acanthosis nigricans.
  • People with cancers of the gastrointestinal or genitourinary tracts or with lymphoma are more prone to get affected by acanthosis nigricans.
  • Other possible cause of acanthosis nigricans is the obesity, which is frequently found in people with diabetes.
  • Acanthosis nigricans, may be induced by several medications, including nicotinic acid, insulin, pituitary extract, systemic corticosteroids, and diethylstilbestrol.

Symptoms of Acanthosis Nigricans:

The possible symptoms of acanthosis nigricans are as:-

  • The acanthosis nigricans, may be featurised as a dark, velvety skin with very visible markings and creases appears in the armpits, groin, and neck.
  • The dark-brouwn patches are common in the patients of acanthosis nigricans. These dark patches feel velvety and rough.
  • Itching may be present in the patients with acanthosis nigricans.
  • AN lesions may also appear on the mucous membranes of the oral cavity, nasal and laryngeal mucosa and oesophagus.
  • The multiple finger-like growths are common on cutaneous and mucosal surfaces.
  • Skin tags, may be seen in and around the affected areas.

Treatments of Acanthosis Nigricans:

The effective treatments for acanthosis nigricans includes:-

  • Niacin (nicotinic acid) is found very efffective in the treatment of acanthosis nigricans.
  • The antibiotic ointments or creams retinoids are the useful remedies for acanthosis nigricans.
  • Topical corticosteroid creams, are applied to the defected area of the skin.
  • Correct hyperinsulinemia through diet and medication, may also help to control the condition.
  • Acanthosis nigricans, can be avoided by loseing weight of the patient.
  • Topical retinoids, dermabrasion and laser therapy, are very effective in the treatment of acanthosis nigricans.