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Acanthosis nigricans is a skin disease. This is a disorder of hyperpigmentation (an increase of the dark pigment melanin) in the skin. Acanthosis nigricans is asymptomatic, brown to black, with a velvety texture. Pedunculated skin tags often are present. The most common sites are the axillae, neck, and groin.
There are two important types of acanthosis are found:

  • Benign acanthosis nigricans
  • Malignant acanthosis nigricans

Although classically described as a sign of internal malignancy, this is very rare. Benign types, sometimes described as ‘pseudoacanthosis nigricans’ are much more common. Acanthosis nigricans is a disorder that may begin at any age.


The cause for acanthosis nigricans is still not clearly defined but it appears to be related to insulin resistance. It has been associated with various benign and malignant conditions. When inherited, it is not considered dangerous. Acanthosis nigricans mostly affect healthy people. It is most common among people of African descent. Hormone problems, endocrine disorders or tumors may causes of Acanthosis nigricans. Other hormone problems, endocrine disorders or tumors may play a role as well. Rarely, acanthosis nigricans is associated with certain types of cancer. Rarely, acanthosis nigricans is associated with certain types of cancers of the gastrointestinal or genitourinary tracts or with lymphoma. Some drugs, particularly hormones such as human growth hormone or oral contraceptives can also cause acanthosis nigricans.


Here is the list of some of the common symptoms of Acanthosis Nigricans:

  • Dark, thick, velvety skin in body folds and creases - typically the armpits, groin and neck.
  • Skin changes appear slowly,
  • Rough areas or increased skin markings usually on the back and sides of the neck.
  • Abnormally increased coloration (hyperpigmentation) and "velvety" thickening (hyperkeratosis) of the skin
  • Light-brown-to-black

Acanthosis nigricans treatment

There is no specific acanthosis nigricans treatment. If you have acanthosis nigricans, it is very important to get checked for type 2 diabetes and other possible causes. The skin changes often get better with the improved diet and exercise that treats or helps prevent diabetes. Fish oil supplements may also be recommended. Dermabrasion or laser therapy may help reduce the thickness of certain affected areas.

Treatment of the lesions of acanthosis nigricans is for cosmetic reasons only. Correcting hyperinsulinemia can be affective to control the condition. If the condition is caused due to an external cause like the side effect of a medication, then first thing we have to do is stopped the medicine. But if is caused by a cancer, there is nothing much that can be done.


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