Acanthosis nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans (ak-an-THOE-sis NIE-grih-kuns) is a skin condition characterized by areas of dark, velvety discoloration in body folds and creases. The affected skin can become thickened and may smell bad. Most often, acanthosis nigricans affects your armpits, groin and neck.

These skin changes typically occur in people who are obese or have diabetes. Children who develop the condition are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. More rarely, acanthosis nigricans can be a warning sign of a cancerous tumor in an internal organ, such as the stomach or liver.

Acanthosis nigricans is most common in Native Americans, blacks and Hispanics. There's no specific treatment for acanthosis nigricans. Treatment of underlying conditions may restore some of the normal color and texture to affected areas of skin.

Symptoms Causes Risk factors Complications

Skin changes are the only signs of acanthosis nigricans. You'll notice dark, thickened, velvety skin in body folds and creases — typically in your armpits, groin and neck. The skin changes appear slowly, sometimes over months or years. The affected skin may also smell bad or itch.

When to see a doctor

Consult your doctor if you notice changes in your skin — especially if the changes appear suddenly. You may have an underlying condition that needs treatment.

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