What is Acanthosis Nigricans?
Acanthosis Nigricans is a pathological skin condition in which there is dark discoloration over the folds and creases of the body. The skin affected by Acanthosis Nigricans may become thick. Acanthosis Nigricans affects mostly the armpits, groin, and neck. People who are more likely to develop Acanthosis Nigricans are those with a known diagnosis of diabetes. Overweight and obese people are also at risk for developing Acanthosis Nigricans. If this condition develops in a child then that child is at risk for developing diabetes later in life.
In rare cases, Acanthosis Nigricans is a pointer for a cancerous tumor developing in some organ of the body, usually the liver or stomach, and further investigations may be needed to rule out the condition. As of now, there is no permanent treatment for Acanthosis Nigricans. There are quite a few lotions and other natural remedies which may bring back some color and texture to the affected skin but even that is not sufficient enough to restore the skin back to its normal color and texture.
What are the Causes of Acanthosis Nigricans?
Some of the causes of Acanthosis Nigricans are:
- Insulin Resistance: This is one of the common causes of Acanthosis Nigricans. People with this condition develop a resistance to insulin and hence they are prone to develop diabetes mellitus or already have a confirmed diagnosis of diabetes.
- Hormonal Disorders: This is yet another cause of Acanthosis Nigricans. People with hormonal disorders like ovarian cysts, hypothyroidism or a dysfunctional adrenal gland are prone to develop Acanthosis Nigricans
- Overuse of Certain Medications/Supplements: Overuse of certain classes of medications like niacin, birth control pills, prednisone and other corticosteroids can result in development of Acanthosis Nigricans.
- Cancer: In rare cases, Acanthosis Nigricans may develop when there is a malignant tumor developing in some internal organ of the body, especially liver or stomach.
What are the Risk Factors for Acanthosis Nigricans?
Some of the risk factors for Acanthosis Nigricans are:
- Obesity: People who are overweight are at higher risk for developing Acanthosis Nigricans
- Race: Some studies suggest that Acanthosis Nigricans is more common in Native Americans than the other population across the United States
- Family History: Some studies suggest a genetic link to the development of Acanthosis Nigricans.
What are the Symptoms of Acanthosis Nigricans?
The only presenting symptom of Acanthosis Nigricans is the presence of dark skin around the folds and creases of the body especially the armpits, neck, and the groin. In some cases, there may be an odor to the affected skin and the patient may have an intense feeling of itching across the affected skin.
How is Acanthosis Nigricans Diagnosed?
A skin examination is good enough to diagnose Acanthosis Nigricans. If the cause of the condition remains unknown then the doctor may do additional tests like blood tests, biopsy of the affected skin, and radiological studies in the form of x-rays or CT scans to look for a cause for the condition. The doctor may also perform a thorough scan of the liver and stomach along with conducting laboratory studies to check the status of the liver to rule out cancer as a cause of Acanthosis Nigricans.
How to Get Rid of Acanthosis Nigricans?
Treatments for Acanthosis Nigricans
Treatment of Acanthosis Nigricans involves treating the underlying cause of the condition. Some methods to get rid of Acanthosis Nigricans are:
Losing Weight: If being overweight and obese is the cause of the development of Acanthosis Nigricans then losing weight in a healthy manner is recommended to help get rid of the condition.
Stopping Medications/Supplements: In case if medications or supplements are the cause for the development of Acanthosis Nigricans then stopping the offending medication or supplement may help treat Acanthosis Nigricans
Surgery: In case if cancer is the cause of Acanthosis Nigricans then removing the tumor and subsequent therapies to treat cancer may help get rid of Acanthosis Nigricans. Additionally, the treating physician may also recommend the following in case Acanthosis Nigricans starts to affect the patient cosmetically or there is a foul odor coming from the skin. These methods are:
- Prescription creams to lighten the affected skin areas
- Antibacterial soaps which need to be used gently on the affected skin
- Topical antibiotics
- Oral acne medications to get rid of Acanthosis Nigricans
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Acanthosis Nigricans
Below mentioned are some simple home remedies which are quite effective in getting rid of Acanthosis Nigricans. These home remedies are:
Almond Scrub: Almonds are quite an effective home remedy for getting rid of Acanthosis Nigricans. Almonds are an excellent source of Vitamin E which is a much required ingredient for good skin health and is quite effective in lightening the skin. The skin lightening properties of almonds also help in getting rid of Acanthosis Nigricans. To use it, you need to take 5 to 8 almonds and grind them to make a thick paste. Now, add one teaspoon of milk powder and 1 teaspoon of honey to the paste. Mix the three of the ingredients well and apply it to the affected area of the skin. Let the paste remain on the affected area for about half an hour and then remove it by massaging it and washing the area off with water. Repeat this about three to four times a week for optimal results.
Walnut Scrub: This is yet another effective home remedy for getting rid of Acanthosis Nigricans. Walnuts also have in them rich source of vitamins and other properties which help improve skin health in general and lighten the dark areas of the skin caused due to Acanthosis Nigricans. A scrub made of walnut and sour curd is quite effective in lightening the skin tone by removing the deposit of dirt and dead cells. To use this, crush 8 to 10 walnuts and add two teaspoons of sour curd to convert it into a paste. Now, apply this paste on the affected areas of the skin and scrub by massaging it for about 10 minutes. Leave the paste on the affected skin for about half an hour to allow it to dry off. Now wash the area with cold water. Do this for about two weeks on a regular basis for best results.
Baking Soda: This is also one of the best home remedies to get rid of Acanthosis Nigricans. Baking soda is a natural exfoliant which removes dark and discolored patches from skin. To use this, make a thick mixture by adding baking soda and water in 3:1 ratio. Mix them thoroughly and apply the paste on the affected areas of the skin. Keep the paste in place to allow it to dry for a period of about 10 minutes. Do this about three times a day for a week and you will definitely see a positive result with lightening of the skin.
Orange Peels: Orange peels contain in it high amounts of vitamin C which is very useful for overall skin health and is very effective in lightening the skin and hence is quite an effective home remedy for Acanthosis Nigricans. To use this, dry some orange peels in the sun and then grind them so as to make them into a powder. Mix two tablespoons of the orange peel powder with three teaspoons of whole milk and mix then thoroughly to form a heavy paste. Apply this paste on the affected areas of the skin and allow it to dry for about half an hour. Then wash it off with cold water. You will need to do this for about two weeks for best results and getting rid of Acanthosis Nigricans.