Acanthosis Nigricans

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Acanthosis Nigricans

Acanthosis nigricans (ak an THOE sis NIE grih kuns) is a skin change most commonly seen on the neck, armpits, and groin. In girls it may also be between the breasts. Dark, thickened, velvety or leathery areas appear on the skin. This is not contagious (it cannot be passed from person to person).

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is more common in children who are overweight, have type 2 diabetes or are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. It can be a sign of insulin resistance or impaired glucose metabolism. For more information please read Helping Hand HH-I-214, Diabetes: Type 2.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A doctor may diagnose AN during a physical exam. If your child is diagnosed with AN, the doctor may want to check the child’s blood glucose and insulin. This will be done with a blood test.

AN is challenging to treat.

  • Some moisturizers have ingredients that exfoliate (help remove dead cells from the surface of) the skin. This may help to flatten and lighten the color of the rash. Ask your child's doctor or nurse which products you should use.
  • If your child has Type 2 diabetes or is overweight, AN may not go away. Losing weight and controlling blood sugar can help improve this skin condition.

If there is a concern about your child’s blood sugar, he or she will be referred to the endocrinology clinic for more testing.

For questions about how to help your child lose weight in a healthy way, please speak with the child’s doctor.

HH- I-391  Acanthosis Nigricans (AN) (PDF)

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