The different types of acanthosis nigricans treatment that exist are used to treat or reverse the dermal condition that causes darkening of the skin. Acanthosis nigricans is generally caused by underlying medical problems, most suggested treatments do not treat the condition directly but rather the disorder or disease from which it develops. Following or using an acanthosis nigricans treatment can help one reduce the appearance of darkened skin, and in some cases, it can completely eliminate the condition.
Acanthosis nigricans is a medical problem that causes darkening — usually a black or brown color — and a velvety appearance in folds of the skin. The condition typically develops on the back of the neck, in the groin area or under the arms, but it also can affect the fingers, toes, knees and other areas of the body. Typically, acanthosis nigricans appears gradually and is not always noticeable right away. A diagnosis of acanthosis nigricans can occur in generally healthy people, but more often, it is a symptom of a medical condition that indicates elevated insulin levels or insulin resistance, such as diabetes or obesity, causing abnormal changes in the skin cells. Some medications, such as oral contraceptives, have also been found to cause acanthosis nigricans.
This skin condition is often caused by diabetes or other conditions that affect insulin levels, so the most commonly suggested acanthosis nigricans treatment targets the underlying medical condition. For instance, a person with diabetes who also suffers from acanthosis nigricans would be advised to avoid consuming foods that cause their insulin levels to spike, such as foods that are high in sugars and starches. When the insulin levels have been reduced by controlling these factors, the acanthosis nigricans will often lighten considerably.
Acanthosis nigricans is also thought to occur more frequently in people who are obese and exhibit symptoms of insulin resistance. Losing weight has been shown to reduce the appearance of acanthosis nigricans in these individuals. Furthermore, weight loss is often paired with a reduced intake of sugars and starches as a suggested form of treatment. For people whose medication causes acanthosis nigricans, it might be suggested that they discontinue use of the medicine or try an alternative medicine that does not affect the skin.
Although acanthosis nigricans treatment is perhaps most effective when it is aimed at changing the underlying cause of the condition, some people choose to use a cosmetic treatment. For some individuals, applying a prescribed skin cream that contains vitamin A or alphahydroxyacids can lighten the darkened patches of skin. Some people might also choose to apply a bleaching lotion or agent that can lighten the color of the skin over a period of time. Still, some bleaching creams can contain potentially harmful chemicals, such as lead and mercury, and might not be completely effective.
Acanthosis nigricans treatment methods are suggested for both men and women of any race or age. Though acanthosis nigricans can affect anyone, it appears most commonly in people of African descent and less in people who are of Hispanic, Asian or European descent. It is not known why the disorder occurs more frequently in people who have darker skin.