Acanthosis nigricans: what is it, symptoms, causes and treatment?

Acanthosis nigricans: what is it, symptoms, causes and treatment?

Acanthosis nigricans, also known as acanthosis nigricans, is a disorder in which dark spots appear in areas of the skin where there are small folds, such as the armpits, back, and abdomen, for example. 

This disorder is related to hormonal problems and is a good indication of insulin resistance.

In this case, if the individual performs the capillary blood glucose test, its result may be altered. And indicate prediabetes, which occurs when blood sugar values ​​reach a value of 124 mg/dL, which does not yet indicate diabetes.

Main signs and symptoms

The only sign of this condition is the appearance of dark brown or grayish spots with a thick and velvety appearance in the areas of the skin where there are folds, such as the neck, armpits, and back; however, they can also appear on the face, genital region, groin, knuckles, and thighs. 

What causes acanthosis in Nigerians?

Aside from insulin resistance or diabetes, other possible causes of acanthosis nigricans are hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism, acromegaly, polycystic ovary syndrome, metabolic syndrome, Cushing’s syndrome, or use of oral contraceptives.

This dark mark on the skin, which looks like dirt, is more common in African descent but can occur in anyone. On these occasions, the dermatologist may prescribe the daily use of some creams, such as tretinoin, ammonium lactate, or hydroquinone, for example. 

How to treat acanthosis nigricans

The treatment for acanthosis nigricans depends on its cause, and, as hormonal changes cause this type of spot, it should be guided by the endocrinologist.

In some cases, the spots may appear due to the following conditions:

  • Diabetes: blood sugar levels must be kept regulated to accelerate the disappearance of stains;
  • Polycystic ovary: treatment with contraceptives must be carried out to regulate hormones and reduce dark spots on the skin;
  • Metabolic syndrome: it is recommended to lose weight with a balanced diet and regular physical exercise to reduce the spots. 

With proper treatment, dark spots on the skin tend to fade, and the skin returns to an even color.

home treatment options

For the removal of dark spots on the neck caused by acanthosis nigricans, some home remedies can help speed up the results:

Place lemon on the skin

Due to the citric acid, lemon has excellent whitening properties that can lighten dark skin, even in acanthosis nigricans.

  • How to use it:  cut a lemon, squeeze its juice, and, with a cotton swab, apply it on the stains and leave it to act for 10 to 20 minutes. To finish, wash the skin and avoid exposure to the sun for at least 12 hours.

Exfoliation with baking soda

Most potent natural exfoliants, lightening and even removing various dark spots on the skin.

  • How to use it:  mix two tablespoons of baking soda with one tablespoon of water until you get a paste. Then apply to the neck or affected region and leave for 20 minutes. Finally, wash with cold water and repeat the process every day.


Cucumber has a calming and slightly exfoliating effect that naturally illuminates and brightens the skin.

  • Use it: cut the cucumber into thin slices and place it on the dark spots. Could you leave it to act for 15 minutes? Finally, wash the area, apply rose water to the neck, and dry it thoroughly.

These home remedies are only a complement to speed up the treatment that the endocrinologist must indicate to control the cause that is causing acanthosis nigricans. 

Chiaramonte Garner

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