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Acanthosis Nigricans in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 1, 2023.

Acanthosis nigricans (AN) is a condition that causes dark, velvety patches to form on your child's skin. The patches form on your child's body folds and creases. The most common areas affected are the back of your child's neck, armpit, and groin. Your child's fingers, mouth, nipple area, bellybutton, face, or elbows may also be affected. Your child's symptoms may be mild or severe. The patches may itch or have an odor. Symptoms may be present at birth or develop slowly. Over time, your child's skin may become thick and leathery.


Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has new or worsening symptoms.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.


Your child may need the following:

  • Topical cream or gel medicines may be prescribed. These medicines may make the patches lighter or softer. Your child may also be given antibiotic cream or soap to use on his or her skin.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell the provider if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Care for your child:

  • Ask your child's healthcare provider how much your child should weigh. AN skin patches often clear up after weight loss. Your child's healthcare provider can help create a safe weight loss plan if your child is overweight.
  • Feed your child healthy foods. Healthy foods can help control your child's blood sugar levels. They can also help your child lose weight. Examples of healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Your child's healthcare provider or a dietitian can help you create a healthy meal plan for your child.
  • Have your child exercise regularly. Exercise can help decrease your child's blood sugar level. It can also help your child lose weight. Your child should exercise for 30 to 60 minutes on most days of the week. Examples of exercise include walking, swimming, or playing sports. Work with your child's healthcare provider to create an exercise plan for him or her.
  • Use gentle skin care products on your child's skin. Some skin care products can irritate your child's skin and make AN worse. Ask your child's healthcare provider what products are safe for your child's skin. The provider may also be able to prescribe or recommend soaps if your child's patches have an odor.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

Your child may be referred to a diabetes specialist or dietitian. Your child may need ongoing tests or treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your child's 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.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.