Acanthosis Nigricans - Western SummaryWestern Medicine Summary

Western Medicine

Western Summary

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a skin condition in which the skin in and close to the folds of the body darkens and thickens. Although acanthosis nigricans is associated with endocrine disorders such as diabetes, the skin concern primarily cosmetic, and does not typically cause itching, burning, or pain.

Symptoms

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a skin condition in which the skin in and close to the folds of the body darkens and thickens.  It is mainly found in the neck, armpits, under the breasts, and groin. 

Causes

The exact cause of acanthosis nigricans remains unidentified, but it has been known to develop along with other diseases. It may be associated with insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, or as a side effect of medications such as systemic corticosteroids, insulin, nicotinic acids, and hormone treatments. In rare cases, acanthosis nigricans has been associated with internal cancer, particularly in the stomach.

Treatments

Because acanthosis nigricans is not harmful, treatment is considered cosmetic. The best way to prevent acanthosis nigricans from worsening is to correct the underlying internal condition through treating an internal disease, losing weight, or stopping the offending medications. Despite these preventive methods, acanthosis nigricans will not resolve on its own without additional treatments.

Topical medications

  • Topical retinoids
  • Ammonium lactate cream
  • Combination of topical retinoid, topical steroid, and lightening creams (hydroquinone)
  • Salicylic acids

Oral medications

  • Isotretinoin
  • Metformin (used to treat diabetes)