This patient information and photographs on Acanthosis Nigracans is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Acanthosis nigricans is a diffuse, asymptomatic velvety thickening and darkening of the skin, chiefly in the armpits and other body folds. The skin appears dirty and thick in the areas of involvement. Often the onset is during childhood or puberty.
What causes it? It is believed that hormonal changes due to underlying medical conditions causes the skin changes. Conditions such as obesity, endocrine disorders, certain medications, heredity and rarely internal cancer may play a role in Acanthosis Nigracans.
Is it dangerous? For the typical healthy person Acanthosis Nigracans is a harmless disorder, but it may be a symptom of more important underlying medical conditions. Acanthosis Nigracans should be evaluated by a physician.
Will it spread? Acanthosis Nigracans typically stays limited to "skin folds" areas of the body.
Can it be cured? Treatment of Acanthosis Nigracans is directed at the underlying cause. Response is usually very slow in cosmetic improvement.
Is it contagious? Acanthosis Nigracans is not contagious and you cannot "catch it" from anyone.