Published: Thu, January 19, 2017
World | By Lorena Waters

Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System

Health Library | Health and Wellness | Wellmont Health System


Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition in which brown or black markers with velvet-like texture appear under the arms, groin, or nape. Any skin fold can be affected, including the lower lip and chin.


The causes of acanthosis nigricans may include: >

  • High levels of insulin in people who are obese
  • Family history of acanthosis nigricans
  • Cancerous tumor (uncommon)
Risk factors that increase your chance of getting acanthosis nigricans include:

  • Being overweight
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Genetics: People with African-American descent are more likely to develop acanthosis nigricans
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If you experience any of these symptoms, do not assume that it is due to acanthosis pigmentosa. These symptoms can be caused by other health problems.

    • Dark areas of velvety appearance on:
      • Back of the neck
      • Armpits
      • Ingle
      • Face
      • Palms
      • P>


        The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. You will have a physical examination. Tests may include the following:

        • Skin biopsy
        • Blood tests
        • Diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays or endoscopy to rule out other causes


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        Topical and oral retinoids and other medications have been reported to improve appearance in some cases. They help remove excess layers of skin. Prevention The best way to decrease your chances of acquiring acanthosis nigricans is to maintain a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise.


        National Organization for Rare Diseases

        American Academy of Dermatology http: // www / for-the-public / home


        Health Canada


        Acanthosis nigricans. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 10, 2010. Accessed November 19, 2012.

        Clark N, Stulberg DL, Tovey D. Common hyperpigmentation disorders in adults: part II. Melanoma, seborrheic keratoses, acanthosis nigricans, melasma, diabetic dermopathy, tinea versicolor, and postinflammatory hyperpigmentation. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Nov 15; 68 (10). Available at: Accessed November 19, 2012.

        Goff DC, Katz AS, Feldman SR. Acanthosis nigricans in obese patients: presentations and implications for prevention of atherosclerotis vascular disease. Dermatology Online Journal . 2000; 5 (1). Available at: Accessed November 19, 2012.

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