Causes of acanthosis pigmentosa

Acanthosis pigmentosa is a skin disorder that is characterized by dark areas of the skin, with velvety color changes in the folds and grooves. The affected skin can thicken. In most cases, it affects the armpits, groin and neck.

Changes in the skin of acanthosis pigmentosa They usually appear in people who are obese or have diabetes. In addition, children who manifest this disease are at increased risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Rarely, acanthosis pigmentosa it may be a warning sign of a cancerous tumor in an internal organ, such as the stomach or liver.

There are no specific treatments for this disease. The treatment of undiagnosed disorders may return some of the normal color and texture in the affected areas of the skin.

Symptoms of acanthosis pigmentosa

Changes in the skin are the only signs of the disease. The skin is darker, thicker and velvety in the folds and wrinkles of the body, usually in the armpits, in the groin and in the back of the neck.

Usually, Changes in the skin appear slowly. The affected skin may also have an odor or stinging.

Consult your doctor if you notice changes in the skin, in particular, if they appear suddenly. You may have an undiagnosed disease that needs treatment.

Causes of acanthosis pigmentosa

Acanthosis pigmentosa has been associated with the following:

Insulin resistance

Many People who have acanthosis pigmentosa have also become resistant to insulinto. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that allows the body to process sugar. Insulin resistance is what ultimately causes type 2 diabetes.

Hormonal disorders.

Acanthosis pigmentosa It often occurs in people who have disorders such as ovarian cysts, underactive thyroid or problems with the adrenal glands.

Certain medications and supplements.

High doses of niacin, birth control pills, prednisone and others Corticosteroids can cause acanthosis pigmentosa.


Acanthosis pigmentosa also sometimes occurs with a lymphoma or when a cancerous tumor begins to grow in an internal organ, such as the stomach, colon or liver.

Read also: Sun and skin cancer, what is the relationship?

Risk factor's

The risk factors for acquiring acanthosis pigmentosa are the following:

  • Obesity: The higher your weight, the higher the risk of getting this disease.
  • Race: Studies show that, in the United States, acanthosis pigmentosa is more common in Native Americans.
  • Family background: Apparently, some types of acanthosis pigmentosa are hereditary.

Diagnosis of acanthosis pigmentosa

Acanthosis pigmentosa It is usually detected during a skin exam. Rarely, a small sample of skin is removed for biopsy and sent to a laboratory for analysis.

If it is not clear what the cause is, your doctor may recommend that you have blood tests, x-rays, or other studies to look for possible undiagnosed causes.

Treatment of acanthosis pigmentosa

In many cases, treat background disease It can help dissipate color changes. Some examples can be the following:

  • Lose weight. If acanthosis pigmentosa occurs because of obesity, losing weight can be useful.
  • Suspend medications or supplements. If the disease seems to be associated with the medication or supplement you are taking, your doctor may suggest that you stop that substance
  • Submit to surgery. If the disease was caused by a cancerous tumor, the surgical removal of the tumor usually makes disappear the skin color change.

How to improve the appearance of the skin

If you are worried about the appearance of the skin or if the lesions are uncomfortable or begin to have a bad smell, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Prescription creams to clarify or soften the affected areas.
  • Antibacterial soaps used gently, since friction can make the condition worse.
  • Topical antibiotics
  • Oral medications against acne.
  • Laser therapy to reduce the thickness of the skin.

You may also be interested in: Main diseases of the skin

Tests and exams

Your doctor can usually diagnose acanthosis by observing the skin. In rare cases, a skin biopsy may be needed. If there is no clear cause, the specialist can order other tests. These may include: