Acanthosis nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans neck

Last Updated December 20th, 2021

Overview of acanthosis nigricans

The scenario of skin diseases and infections is very grave in India. According to the statistics of Biospectrum India, the incidence rate of different types of skin diseases was nearly 10% in the year 2013. They also predicted that around 188 million people (12% of the total population) are likely to suffer from serious skin diseases by the year 2015. A particular skin disease known as acanthosis nigricans has worried the dermatologists worldwide in the recent years. It has been traced to environmental factors as well as certain existing diseases. The current research works are being directed towards devising advanced treatment techniques for acanthosis nigricans.

What is acanthosis nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans neckAcanthosis nigricans is a type of skin disease in which blackish or brownish discoloration of the skin occurs along with a velvety appearance in different portions of the body. These patches are commonly seen at the back of the neck, in the groin and armpit. It can also appear in some other parts of the body that have skin folds, such as chin, lower lips, forehead, and navel. Occasionally it is seen on the knuckles as well. It results from the thickening of the skin surface. In due course of time, the skin texture may change completely.

What causes acanthosis nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans is common in people who are obese or overweight, the primary reason being the presence of a large number of folds. People having diabetes and glucose intolerance are also found to have the disease. At present, nearly 8.7% in the urban areas and 7.9% in the rural areas have varying levels of glucose intolerance. These people are at greater risks of having acanthosis nigricans. Endocrinal disorders, medicines, and malignancy are also some of the major risk factors for the disease. People having certain serious diseases like Hypothyroidism, Polycystic Ovary Disease, Cushing’s syndrome and acromegaly are also equally likely to suffer from acanthosis nigricans.

What are the symptoms of acanthosis nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans should be distinguished from other skin diseases that result in patches and eruptions. The following signs should be noted-

  • Dark brown or blackish patches in the skin folds
  • Velvety appearance of the affected region
  • Thickened skin texture
  • A difference in color between the affected region and the adjoining skin
  • Spreading of the patches to the neighboring regions
  • Skin irritation (rare)
  • The appearance of skin tags at a later stage
  • The appearance of additional skin folds in the advanced stages

Get improved and pigmentation-free skin with these dermatologist-recommended solutions.

What are the different types of acanthosis nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans endocrineBased on the nature of the disease, acanthosis nigricans can be divided into two classes-

  • Benign: This type of acanthosis nigricans does not cause additional systemic complications. It arises from endocrinal disorders and overweight conditions. It may have some hereditary linkage in some cases.
  • Malignant: This type of acanthosis nigricans may give rise to malignancy in future. They are often associated with tumour-necrosis factor and abnormalities in insulin processing.

Based on the aetiology, acanthosis nigricans is of the following types-

Type I: It is also known as familial acanthosis nigricans. It is basically an autosomal dominant trait that is usually present at birth. It may also develop at some later point of time, say in teenage or adulthood.

Type II: This type stems from endocrinal disorders. The onset symptoms are not so identifiable, though the process already starts. Type II acanthosis may develop under the following conditions-

  • Metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus
  • Excess androgen in Cushing’s disease, polycystic ovary, acromegaly
  • Addison’s disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Rare diseases like Alstrom syndrome, Prader-Willi syndrome, Ovarian hyperthecosis, pituitary basophilism, pineal hyperplasia syndrome

Type III: This is also known as Pseudo Acanthosis Nigricans. It is more common in obese people. In such cases, this disease is a strong indicator of insulin resistance. The extent of skin pigmentation in this case has a positive correlation with the degree of insulin resistance. Both Type A and Type B insulin resistance syndromes are responsible for skin pigmentation in this case. It is more likely to occur in people with dark complexion and is difficult to identify. For this reason, it is also known as Pseudo Acanthosis Nigricans.

Type IV: This type occurs as a result of drug abuse or overuse. Some of the common drugs responsible for this condition are- oral contraceptive pills, glucocorticoid and a few others. People undergoing growth hormone therapy may also develop Type IV acanthosis.

Type V: This type of acanthosis nigricans is associated with malignancy. It is very often known as a paraneoplastic syndrome. This type is usually associated with-

  • Genitourinary Cancers
  • Gastrointestinal Adenocarcinomas
  • Lymphoma

Acral acanthotic anomaly: It is yet one more variant of acanthosis nigricans, wherein dark patches appear on the knees, knuckles, elbows and the dorsal surface of the feet.

Diagnosis

For the diagnosis of acanthosis nigricans, the doctors primarily go through the patient’s family history. Next, they conduct a physical examination. It may include but need not be limited to the following tests-

  • Skin biopsy (to rule out cancer)
  • Blood test (Complete Blood Count)
  • Endoscopy (to eliminate gastrointestinal causes)
  • X-rays (to rule out diabetes)
  • Differential diagnosis (to distinguish the disease from casal collar seen in Pellagra)

The biopsy results may yield the following findings-

  • Epidermal folding
  • Hyperkeratosis
  • Melanocyte proliferation
  • Leukocyte infiltration

What are the effective treatment and preventive techniques for acanthosis nigricans?

The treatments for acanthosis are targeted towards eliminating the dermal symptoms as well as the clinical conditions causing those symptoms. The doctors may prescribe the following medicines to reduce the pigmentation and alteration of skin texture-

  • Salicylic Acid
  • Alpha Hydroxy acids
  • Retin-A
  • 20% Urea

There are many ways to treat acanthosis nigricans; ranging from topical ointments to cosmetic procedures. You can use an anti-bacterial soap in order to prevent it from getting infected or emanating a foul smell (in case it due to the accumulation of sweat). Topical antibiotics and skin-lightening agent can also be used to get rid of the dark patches. If these steps fail, one can refer to chemical peeling and exfoliation, or even laser treatment.

In order to prevent such skin pigmentation, one should keep a check on blood-sugar levels. Complete hormone profiling should also be done. If you are overweight, try to bring down your BMI to healthy levels. Also, find out if the pigmentation is occurring due to any medication.

 

Dos and Don'ts

Dos
  • This condition results from high-insulin content in the blood. So, try to control your insulin-level.
  • Topical ointments that contain alpha-hydroxyacids and salicylic acid are effective in treating this condition.
  • In some cases, it is a side-effect of a medication and usually goes away once the medication stops.
Don'ts
  • Treat it as a contagious skin disease.
  • Avoid going to the doctor for a complete check-up just because it is relatively harmless.

 

 

 

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Toxo Gondii-IgM Test The toxo gondii IgM test is a blood test that tells the presence or absence of toxoplasmosis IgM…
General adaptation syndrome: Understanding stress, one step at a time The struggle of the body to produce hormones during a stressful situation is the main theme of general…
Chlorella: Therapeutic powers of the billion-year-old algae now within your reach Chlorella - A billion year old nutrient-rich algae that can potentially ward off cancers and high cholesterol; the…
Top reasons why you need to pay attention to your vitamin B6 intake Vitamin B6- An essential water-soluble vitamin. Its deficiency leads to physical changes such as sores & glossy tongue…
passion fruit juice
Passion fruit: How one exotic fruit can help you fight infections and cancer! Passion fruit: Why does this exotic fruit have such an enticing name? And how can it protect you…
Balneotherapy jacuzzi
5 things you didn’t know about balneotherapy and how you can do it at home Sauna baths have been popular since a long time. But how much more beneficial can balneotherapy be as…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
Squid-ink-spaghetti
Squid Ink: A unique food coloring and flavoring agent Want to add a unique black color to your pasta, noodles and ice-creams? How can you use squid…
PROLACTIN-(PRL)
Prolactin Test (PRL) Prolactin or PRL is a lactogenic hormone produced to induce milk production in lactating mothers. PRL test measures…
cardiolipin antibody igm
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) –IgM Test This particular test measures the level of IgM type antibodies in the blood by using the ELISHA test…
Pescatarian Diet 101: What are the inherent health advantages of this diet? People opt to become a pescatarian in order to enrich their bodies with the essential health benefits that…
High Fiber Diet – Fire up your fiber intake for these health benefits! Regular bowels, healthy detox, higher immunity, and guaranteed weight loss - a high fiber diet can bring all…
avocado benefits
Avocado: 15 reasons why this fruit should be a staple in your diet Did you know that the word avocado literally means "testicles". Don't get grossed out as this power-packed fruit…
carbamazepine
Carbamazepine / Tegretol test The carbamazepine is a drug that is used to treat epilepsy and the carbamazepine test is performed to…
Helicobacter pylori IGA
Helicobacter Pylori – IgA Test The H.pylori IgA test is a blood test used to identify the level of IgA antigen in the…
Sharpen your brain with these top brain-friendly foods! Did you know your diet could decide how razor sharp your memory is? Or that what you eat…
Astaxanthin: Why experts believe it could be 550x more potent than vitamin E! What is astaxanthin and why is this new supplement on the block touted as the most powerful antioxidant…
Goji berry: A traditional Chinese berry that packs the best of antioxidants Goji berry is an ancient berry that is considered to be power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Which means…
Cayenne: The remarkable benefits of these red hot chili peppers These may make you rush for a glass of water, but cayenne pepper is actually a healthy additive…
labiaplasty
Labiaplasty Labiaplasty is a surgical procedure to modify the labia minora and the labia majora. Learn about who can…
tonometry
Tonometry Tonometry uses a device called tonometer to measure the pressure inside the eye. This pressure is depends upon…
Okra: How can this nutrient-dense vegetable help you fight diabetes? Okra is a food which is rich in nutrients and minerals which are extremely essential for a healthy…
Juice Plus: Can you really replace actual fruits with pills?  Juice Plus supplements intend to fill nutritional gaps present in our daily diet. But how successful have they…
Barium-enema
Barium Enema Barium enema is also known as colon x-ray. Here, the patient is asked to consume small amount of…
Cardiolipin Antibody (ACL) –IgG Test The cardiolipin antibody IgG are responsible for the abnormal formation of clots in veins and arteries or phlebitis…
piles
Best treatment for piles in Bangalore All you need to know about piles and piles treatment in Bangalore - the types of treatment available,…
sugar toxic health
Sugar: 7 new shocking truths revealed about the sweet poison Can drinking soda bring you closer to death? Is sugar slowly poisoning you and your family? You would…
anoscopy
Anoscopy Anoscopy is an invasive diagnostic procedure where a small device known as anoscope will be inserted in the…
valproic acid test
Valproic Acid Test Valproic acid test is performed to generally check for psychiatric and even neurological conditions such as bipolar disease…
free testosterone test
Free testosterone Free Testosterone Test measures and monitors the level of the free testosterone in the blood. Less than 4%…
Mood swings
The real reasons for your mood swings and how to overcome them Are you prone to heated moods frequently? Do you also feel bouts of depressive feeling creeping up on…
anti-chlamydia antibody tets
Anti-Chlamydia Antibody -IgG Test Anti-Chlamydia Antibody - IgG test is performed by collection of urine or genital fluids as sample for testing…
Vitamin b12
Vitamin B12 Test Vitamin b12 is an essential nutrient required for healthy functioning of the nervous system and also development of…
Gua sha: Scraping away layers of pain with this ancient healing tool Gua sha is an ancient oriental healing method which focuses on scraping the body with specific tools to…
hsv-igg
Herpes simplex virus (HSV)-IgG Test Herpes simplex virus I(HSV)-IgG is an Immunoglobulin protein that acts as an antibody which stays in the blood…
Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more… Native to the South East Asia, the jackfruit is a fruit brimming with thousands of health benefits. Discover…
Olive Leaf Extract: The healthy goodness of olives in a capsule Olive oil is not the only gift from the Olea Europea tree. Olive leaf extract itself is a…

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