Acanthosis Nigricans (AN) is characterized by the darkening of the skin in areas where the skin folds or forms creases. The skin smells bad at the point and it also becomes thicker. In most cases this condition occurs in the neck, armpits, things and groin areas.
The condition usually occurs in people who have diabetes or are overweight. If a child develops the condition, then he or she may get type 2 diabetes in the future. The condition is usually an indicator of another condition that needs to be treated. AN may also be an indicator of the formation of cancerous cells in an internal organ such as the liver or stomach.
AN is found predominantly in Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans. Since the condition comes as a manifestation of an underlying disease, there is no direct cure, and only by treating the underlying problems will you get rid of AN.
What are the causes of Acanthosis Nigricans?
As mentioned earlier, people who are obese are more susceptible to developing the condition. The condition goes away as one starts to lose weight in this case. There is also a genetic predisposition since it has been found to be inherited in some cases. People who use birth control medication, or are undergoing hormone therapy may also develop AN.
People with type 2 diabetes may also develop this condition, and for children, it may be an indicator that the child will be at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. AN is not a dangerous condition, but it will help the doctor to see what is the underlying condition. Statistics have shown that up to 75% of all children who have type 2 diabetes develop the condition. These figures are according to a report by the American Diabetes Association. By managing the diabetes, or losing weight, people who develop AN will get rid of it, or at least minimize its visibility.
What are the symptoms of Acanthosis Nigricans?
There are no other symptoms apart from the changes in the skin. There is no fever, or rash, and there is no pain. The skin becomes velvety to the touch, darker, and thicker. This only occurs in the areas where the creases and folds have formed. The skin change is not sudden and can occur in a period of months or years. There may be some itching, and the skin will have a foul smell.
You should see the doctor immediately when you notice some changes in the skin. If the changes occur out of the blue, then you should see the doctor who will check to see if you have an underlying condition that needs medical attention.
What is the treatment for Acanthosis Nigricans?
The doctor will conduct tests to see if the AN is caused by an underlying medical condition. If there is no underlying condition, then you do not need to treat it and it will just go away on its own. The doctor may offer you medication to make the AN less noticeable, and you may also use cosmetics to hide the darker skin. You may also have to give the doctor a detailed medical history so he or she can come up with a management plan for you. The doctor needs to know which lotions and creams to be prescribed.
You should not try to use bleach, exfoliating treatments and over-the-counter skin scrubs. Using these compounds will only add to the stress of getting AN, not to mention that you will be wasting your money, and end up irritating the skin further. A time-tested method is to lose weight, maintain a healthy diet, and exercise a lot.
Apart from this, you should ensure that you take general good care of yourself. You may tend to feel self-conscious especially if the condition occurs in an area that is visible, such as the neck. Having a support group of friends and family who understand about the condition would be of great help. You can also go to a counselor, who will advise you on how you can manage the stigma and stress. You should also get information from the doctor or nurse about any support groups that may have formed for people who have developed Acanthosis Nigricans. If you have got the condition due to being overweight, you and others in the group can support each other on weight loss regimes. You can all join a gym together and support each other get through the exercises. You will all notice the condition slowly disappearing and this will also help you form a bond, and ensure that you do not get overweight again.
If the condition is the result of type 2 diabetes, the doctor will advise you on how to adjust your diet, in order to help in getting rid of the condition. It means that by effectively managing the diabetes, the condition will abate.
Acanthosis Nigricans Pictures