Acanthosis nigricans is the name of a skin condition that appears as darkened (light brown to black), velvety patches of skin that develop in the folds of the body, such as the armpits, groin, and neck.
Acanthosis nigricans can affect anyone, but it is more common in people who are overweight, have diabetes, or in women taking birth control pills. Acanthosis nigricans is more common in people of African descent.
Acanthosis nigricans may be caused by elevated levels of insulin that activate receptors in the skin, which results in abnormal skin growth.
Your doctor may need to perform a skin biopsy or other tests to make the diagnosis and rule out other causes.
Controlling acanthosis nigricans usually requires weight loss, and improved nutrition to reduce the levels of ciruclating insulin.
The appearance of acanthosis nigricans may be improved with the use of topical medications, such as topical retinoids (tretinoin, Retin A), urea, alpha hydoxy acids, or topical salicylic acid.
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Last updated: 1/8/2019