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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a condition that causes dark, velvety patches to form on your skin. The patches form on your body folds and creases. The most common areas affected are the back of your neck, armpit, and groin. Your fingers, mouth, nipple area, bellybutton, face, or elbows may also be affected. Your symptoms may be mild or severe. The patches may itch or have an odor. Symptoms develop slowly. Over time, your skin may become thick and leathery.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have new or worsening symptoms.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need the following:
- Topical cream or gel medicines may be prescribed. These medicines may make the patches lighter or softer. The medicines may contain ammonium lactate or tretinoin. You may also be given antibiotic cream or soap to use on your skin. Bleaching agents such as hydroquinone may also be used on your skin.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Prevent or manage AN:
- Reach or maintain a healthy weight. AN skin patches often clear up after weight loss. Your healthcare provider can help you create a safe weight loss plan if you are overweight.
- Eat healthy foods. Healthy foods can help control your blood sugar levels. Examples of healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Your healthcare provider or dietitian can help you create a healthy meal plan.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise can help control your blood sugar level. Exercise can also help you manage your weight or lose weight. Try to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day on most days of the week, or as directed.
- Use gentle skin care products. Some skin care products can irritate your skin and make AN worse. Ask your healthcare provider which skin care products you should use. He or she may also be able to prescribe or recommend soaps if the patches have an odor.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You may be referred to a diabetes specialist or dietitian. You may also need ongoing tests or treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.