Acanthosis nigricans can be detected during a skin exam. To be sure of the diagnosis, your health care provider might take a skin sample (biopsy) to look at under a microscope. Or you may need other tests to find out what's causing your symptoms.
There's no specific treatment for acanthosis nigricans. Your care provider might suggest treatments to help with pain and odor, such as skin creams, special soaps, medications and laser therapy.
Treating the underlying cause might help. Examples include:
- Lose weight. If your acanthosis nigricans is caused by obesity, nutritional counseling and losing weight may help.
- Stop medications. If your condition seems to be related to a medication or supplement that you use, your care provider may suggest that you stop using that substance.
- Have surgery. If acanthosis nigricans was triggered by a cancerous tumor, surgery to remove the tumor often clears up the skin symptoms.
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by seeing your primary care provider. Or you may be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist) or hormone problems (endocrinologist). Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot to discuss, it's a good idea to prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
Before your appointment, you may want to list answers to the following questions:
- Has anyone in your family ever had these skin symptoms?
- Does diabetes run in your family?
- Have you ever had problems with your ovaries, adrenal glands or thyroid?
- What medications and supplements do you take on a regular basis?
- Have you ever had to take high doses of prednisone for more than a week?
What to expect from your doctor
Your health care provider is likely to ask you questions, such as the following:
- When did your symptoms begin?
- Have they gotten worse?
- What areas of your body are affected?
- Have you ever had cancer?
Jun 02, 2022
- AskMayoExpert. Polycystic ovary syndrome. Mayo Clinic; 2021.
- Kang S, et al., eds. Hypermelanoses. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology. 9th ed. McGraw Hill; 2019. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed April 4, 2022.
- Niacinamide. Natural Medicines. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com. Accessed April 4, 2022.
- Gibson LE. Acanthosis nigricans. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2004; doi:10.4065/79.12.1571.
- Dinulos JGH. Cutaneous manifestations of internal disease. In: Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Elsevier; 2021. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed April 4, 2022.
- Thoenes MM. Acanthosis nigricans: An opportunity for intervention. Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 2012; doi:10.1016/j.nurpra.2012.04.010.
- Kang S, et al., eds. Diabetes and other endocrine diseases. In: Fitzpatrick's Dermatology. 9th ed. McGraw Hill; 2019. https://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com. Accessed April 4, 2022.