Various medical factors can lead to acanthosis nigricans (AN). But, it can also develop in otherwise healthy people.
This condition occurs most commonly in people of African descent. Some cases are genetically inherited as an autosomal dominant trait. In fact, only one parent needs to have an abnormal gene for the child to inherit this dermatology condition.
Diabetes is a medically-related factor that causes acanthosis nigricans. Obesity, which causes diabetes and other endocrine disorders, is also a medically-related cause.
Certain medications such as human growth hormone or oral contraceptives can be a cause as well. Cancers of the gastrointestinal or genitourinary tract or lymphoma have been known to cause severe cases of AN.
Suncoast Skin Solutions, led by board certified dermatologist Dr. Christopher Ewanowski, provides safe and proven skin care treatments to patients in Tampa, Brandon, Lutz, Seminole, Riverview, Brooksville, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, Largo, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Sarasota, Palm Harbor, Central Florida, and surrounding locations in Florida.
Acanthosis nigricans may manifest at any age. Many benign types develop during childhood or puberty. However, the onset of malignant AN usually occurs after the age of 40 years. But there have been a few rare instances in which malignant AN developed during childhood.
The frequency of occurrence of acanthosis nigricans in the US is not well known. However, a study of over 1400 children showed that around 7.1 percent displayed signs of AN. In another study of obese adults who weighed at least twice their optimal body weight, it was found that over 50 percent showed signs of AN.
Acanthosis nigricans treatment is focused on the specific symptoms that are apparent in each patient. Such treatment may require the coordinated efforts of a skilled dermatologist.
Treatment direct towards correcting or managing an underlying disease or other causative condition may resolve AN, such as suitable hormone replacement therapy for those with specific endocrine disorders; removal of meds that may lead to drug-induced AN, if possible; and/or other measures to help decrease insulin resistance.
Additionally, in certain cases, such as those with insulin resistance related to diabetes mellitus, disease management may include measures such as making necessary dietary modifications; routinely monitoring blood levels; taking certain drugs orally (by mouth), receiving suitable insulin replacement therapy; and/or other measures.
As stated above, people with pseudoacanthosis nigricans may experience an improvement in certain AN-related skin conditions with adequate weight loss under a doctor’s guidance. But the pigmentary changes may persist. Additionally, for some people with AN, recommended treatment may include the use of specific synthetic, vitamin A-like compounds (retinoids) taken by mouth or applied to the skin (topically).
Disease management in the case of malignant acanthosis nigricans involves treatment by oncologists (cancer specialists).
The form, grade, and stage of the malignancy and other factors will determine the recommended treatment which may include the surgical removal of cancer; administration of specific anti-cancer medications (chemotherapy); radiation therapy, and/or other measures.
At times, genetic counseling may be beneficial to affected people and their families (such as those with hereditary benign AN, or other underlying genetic reasons for AN development). Other treatment for this condition is supportive and symptomatic.
Dr. Ewanowski’s skin care clinic receives patients from Tampa, Brandon, Lutz, Seminole, Riverview, Brooksville, Winter Haven, Daytona Beach, Largo, St. Petersburg, Ocala, Sarasota, Palm Harbor, Central Florida, and nearby areas in Florida for advanced and innovative skin care procedures.
SunCoast Skin Solutions Dermatology offices are located in Tampa / Hillsborough, St. Petersburg / Pinellas County, Brandon, Lutz (2 locations), Winter Haven, Largo, Riverview, Brooksville, Ocala, Largo at Bardmoor, Daytona Beach, Sarasota, and Palm Harbor, Florida. Contact us at 1-844-786-3376 or click here.