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Acanthosis Nigricans

Understanding and managing acanthosis nigricans is crucial for affected patients, and our team is dedicated to offering comprehensive care to improve and manage this skin condition. At Sanova Dermatology, available across Texas and Louisiana, we provide diagnostic and treatment services for this condition, which is often associated with underlying health issues such as obesity, diabetes, or endocrine disorders.

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What is Acanthosis Nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans primarily affects areas of the body where skin folds, such as the armpits, groin, neck, and under the breasts. It appears as darkened, thick patches of skin with a texture that feels velvety. This condition is commonly associated with insulin resistance, and it can also be a marker for more serious health issues like diabetes or, less commonly, cancerous tumors (malignant acanthosis nigricans).

What Causes Acanthosis Nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans is typically associated with several factors and conditions that may contribute to its development:

Insulin Resistance

The most common cause of acanthosis nigricans is insulin resistance, which is a condition where the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin. This resistance leads to higher circulating levels of insulin, which can stimulate skin cells to reproduce rapidly. As a result, it causes the characteristic dark, thick skin patches. Conditions that often accompany insulin resistance include type 2 diabetes, obesity, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Hormonal Disorders

Certain hormonal disorders can trigger acanthosis nigricans, including thyroid diseases, adrenal gland disorders, and growth hormone therapy. PCOS, which affects hormone levels and metabolism, is also commonly associated with this skin condition.

Certain Medications

Some medications, particularly those that can increase insulin levels or affect hormone balance, might lead to the development of acanthosis nigricans. Common examples include high-dose niacin, oral contraceptives, and some corticosteroids.


In some cases, acanthosis nigricans runs in families, suggesting a genetic predisposition to the condition. These genetic forms often appear without any associated obesity or insulin resistance.


Rarely, acanthosis nigricans can be a sign of an underlying cancer, particularly gastric (stomach) cancer. This form is called malignant acanthosis nigricans and it often appears suddenly and grows quickly.

When is Treatment for Acanthosis Nigricans Necessary?

Treatment for acanthosis nigricans is recommended when it is associated with an underlying health condition, causes cosmetic concerns, or leads to discomfort. Addressing the underlying cause, such as improving insulin sensitivity in patients with diabetes, is often a part of the treatment plan. In cases where the appearance of the skin is a concern, especially if it causes psychological distress, treatment to improve the skin’s appearance may be considered.

What are the Treatment Options for Acanthosis Nigricans?

Treatment options for acanthosis nigricans at Sanova Dermatology focus on both managing the underlying condition and improving the appearance of the skin. These options may include:

  • Topical retinoids
  • Topical Vitamin D
  • Laser therapy
  • Dietary and lifestyle changes

How Effective are Acanthosis Nigricans Treatments?

The effectiveness of treatment for acanthosis nigricans varies depending on the underlying cause and the severity of the condition. Treatments that focus on the underlying conditions, such as diabetes or obesity, can lead to significant improvements in the skin’s appearance. Cosmetic treatments can also reduce darkness and thickness of the skin, although results may vary and ongoing treatment might be necessary.

How Much Does Acanthosis Nigricans Treatment Cost?

The cost of acanthosis nigricans treatments can vary based on several factors. Sanova Dermatology customizes each treatment plan to the patient’s specific condition, which will be outlined and discussed during a personal consultation. At this time, we will be able to provide you with a transparent explanation of all costs associated with your treatment. We accept most major insurance plans and also offer financing options to ensure that our treatments are as affordable as possible.

Contact Sanova Dermatology

If you are concerned about changes in your skin such as those caused by acanthosis nigricans, we encourage you to contact Sanova Dermatology in Texas or Louisiana. Our team is ready to provide a thorough assessment, discuss your treatment options, and tailor a plan that addresses both your dermatological and overall health needs.