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Acanthosis nigricans: what is it, symptoms and treatment

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La acanthosis nigricans is a dark spot that appears on the skin, mainly on the skin and in the armpits, and is caused by hormonal changes, mainly insulin resistance.

However, acanthosis nigricans can also be the result of polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid disorders, obesity, Cushing’s syndrome and type 2 diabetes.

It is important that the cause of this problem is identified by the general physician or endocrinologist, in this way it is possible to start the most appropriate treatment, which will depend on the cause that is causing it. In general, it consists of the intake of medications that help regulate hormonal levels, the realization of a healthy diet and medications that help to clarify the affected region.



photo of la acanthosis nigricans

photo of la acanthosis nigricans

How to identify it

The only sign of this affection is the emergence of a dark spot in the skin, mainly in the region of the skin and in the armpits. However, and less frequently, it can also appear in the párpados, ingle, rodillas, codos, in the hand, between the fingers and in the genital region.

Causes of acanthosis nigricans

The causes of acanthosis nigricans, however, are not very clear, however, it is believed that it may be related to insulin resistance, as the high levels of this hormone in the body could stimulate the proliferation of keratinocytes, which are in the cells keratin producers, causing greater pigmentation of the skin.

Some situations that may be related to the development of acanthosis nigricans are:



  • Family history;
  • Diabetes;
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome;
  • Cushing’s Syndrome;
  • obesity;
  • metabolic syndrome;
  • Addison’s illness;
  • Changes in the thyroid.

In addition, the prolonged use of some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, corticoids and growth hormone, for example, may have a secondary effect as a change in the concentration of circulating insulin, favoring acanthosis nigricans. Know other causes of dark spots on the skin.

How is the treatment performed?

The treatment for acanthosis nigricans must be indicated by the general physician or endocrinologist, as this will depend on the cause that originates it. In some cases, it may be advisable to suspend the medication or use drugs that help regulate hormonal levels. In addition, it is important that healthy habits are maintained, such as a healthy and balanced diet and regular physical activity.

1. Medicines for acanthosis nigricans

Some medications that may be indicated by the doctor are:

  • Topical retinoids: these creams are indicated to lighten blemishes, using a combination of tretinoin, hydroquinone and/or fluocinolone acetonide;
  • Topical vitamin D analogue: a vitamin D analogue called calcipotriol, could also help to eliminate the dark spot, which apparently inhibits the proliferation of keratinocytes, minimizing the cutaneous effects of insulin;
  • Oral retinoids: another option of treatment in the ingestion of retinoids orally, such as isotretinoin and acitretin. However, the treatment with these drugs may require large doses for a prolonged period of time;
  • Oral hypoglycemic agents: In cases where acanthosis is associated with insulin resistance, the endocrinologist may indicate the use of conventional insulin-sensitizing drugs such as metformin or rosiglitazone. See what the treatment of insulin resistance consists of;
  • Contraceptive pills: when acanthosis nigricans is a consequence of a polycystic ovary syndrome, the gynecologist may indicate the use of contraceptive pills, such as diane 35, for example, in order to reduce the production of testosterone, regulate menstruation and improve resistance to it insulin. He knows what the polycystic ovaries are and how they are treated.

It is important to point out that the drugs to clear the spot give more effective results when the treatment of the cause of acanthosis nigricans is carried out together.

2. Chemical peeling

In addition to these medications, another treatment option for acanthosis nigricans could be the performance of a chemical peeling. This aesthetic treatment uses an exfoliating agent, such as trichloroacetic acid, for example, which destroys the epidermis (which is the first layer of the skin) and activates a process of repair and rejuvenation of the skin cells, helping to eliminate dark stain. See what a chemical peeling consists of.

3. Home remedies

There are some home remedies that help to lighten the skin and eliminate the dark stain, such as placing a poultice of té de regaliz, putting on the stain the gel of the sábila or washing the region with manzana vinegar, for example. See how to use these home remedies.

Verified by RJ9823 – Public Utility – cc2.0

Consult a Doctor | Translated by User2937

Content for educational purposes only

The translator user relied on the following text:

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Disclaimer – (English version>) This content has been prepared based on information from research, additional publications, or the translation/verification work of a volunteer editor of this web council. This is a non-profit service. It is strongly recommended that all details and information published be carefully verified. We never allow medication recommendations, medication package inserts or any medication guidance. We never allow partisan politics as information.

Isenção de responsabilidade – (versão em português): Este conteúdo foi preparado com base em informações de pesquisas, publicações adicionais ou no trabalho de tradução/verificação de um editor voluntário deste conselho web. Este é um serviço sem fins lucrativos. É altamente recomendável que todos os detalhes e informações publicadas sejam verificadas cuidadosamente. Nunca permitimos recomendações de medicamentos, bulas ou qualquer orientação sobre medicamentos. Nunca permitimos a política partidária como base para checagem. Para mais informações, leia nossos termos.

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