Acanthosis Nigricans, Definition, Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention, Complications

Body Health
What is Acanthosis Nigricans? This disease is a pigmentation disorder in human skin that is not contagious and is generally not harmful. This condition is a sign of mild to severe health problems in patients. Acanthosis nigrikans are marked with folds of skin that are black, thickened, and textured like velvet cloth. This skin area leaves unpleasant odors and itching on the skin.

Causes of Acanthosis Nigricans

Not yet known exactly what causes Acanthosis Nigricans, but generally this condition is related to insulin resistance. Here are a number of causes for Acanthosis Nigricans:

  • Obesity. Acanthosis Nigricans usually results from obesity. The heavier a person's body weight, the higher the risk of suffering from Acanthosis Nigricans.
  • Insulin resistance. This condition causes the body to not be able to use insulin properly. Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas to control blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance is the cause of type 2 diabetes and most people with Acanthosis Nigricans also have insulin resistance.
  • Use of drugs and supplements. Acanthosis Nigricans can be caused by the use of drugs and supplements such as oral contraceptives (birth control pills), corticosteroids such as prednisone, and niacin in high doses.
  • Hormone abnormalities. Acanthosis Nigricans can occur in people with hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), patients with ovarian cysts, and in patients with reduced hormone production in the adrenal gland (Addison's Disease)
  • Cancer. Acanthosis Nigricans can occur in cancer patients such as lymphoma or other tumors in internal organs. Generally tumors of the stomach, large intestine or colon, and liver.
  • Abnormalities of the pituitary gland (pituitary) in the brain.
Acanthosis Nigricans

Symptoms of Acanthosis Nigricans

Symptoms of Acanthosis Nigricans are characterized by areas of the skin which are tanned, black or darker than the surrounding skin. The skin condition in this area is dry, itchy, and rough which is textured like velvet. The areas of the skin commonly attacked by Acanthosis Nigricans are:

  • Lip.
  • Neck.
  • Armpit.
  • Palm.
  • Knuckles.
  • Elbow.
  • Thigh fold.
  • Knee.
  • Soles of the feet.

Diagnosis of Acanthosis Nigricans

Doctors can recognize the Acanthosis Nigricans through direct observation of the patient's skin. Generally, the doctor will check whether the patient has diabetes or insulin resistance, through a blood sugar test or an insulin test by fasting first. In addition, the patient's medical history is also examined, including a history of consumption of vitamin and mineral supplements, or supplements that form muscle mass. In rare cases, the doctor will take a few samples from the skin pieces (biopsy) that are affected by Acanthosis Nigricans to be examined in the laboratory. On the Acanthosis Nigricans, the cause of which is not yet known, doctors recommend blood tests and a number of other tests to determine the cause.

Acanthosis Nigricans Treatment

The treatment of Acanthosis Nigricans aims to treat the causes of Acanthosis Nigricans. Doctors will usually recommend patient care in the form of:

  • Weight loss.
  • Consumption of drugs to improve hormone levels in the body if nigrikans caused by hormonal abnormalities.
  • Given blood sugar-lowering drugs if you have diabetes.
  • Surgery, chemotherapy, or radiotherapy for people with cancer.

Besides overcoming the causes of Acanthosis Nigricans, to improve the appearance of the skin, treatment can be given as follows:

  • Skin lightening cream containing alpha hydroxy acid, urea, and salicylic acid.
  • Antibiotic cream.
  • Antibacterial soap.
  • Drinking acne medications such as isotretinoin and antibiotics.
  • Laser therapy that focuses on the beam that is fired to improve the appearance of the skin.

Complications of Acanthosis Nigricans

Complications from the Acanthosis Nigricans depend on the cause. Acanthosis that arises when adults need to find out the cause. Insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are most often associated with Acanthosis Nigricans, but the possibility of cancer should not be ignored.

Prevention of Acanthosis Nigricans

Acanthosis Nigricans is not just a skin disorder. To prevent the Acanthosis Nigricans, it is to prevent the cause, including:

  • Reducing excess weight or obesity, for example by undergoing a healthy diet and regular exercise.
  • Replacing certain drugs that can trigger Acanthosis Nigricans. Consult a doctor regarding medication replacement.

Immediately visit a dermatologist if your skin changes color and shape, both small and large changes. Sometimes even small changes to your skin can be an early symptom of diabetes or other health problems.


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