Most people with acanthosis nigricans have a higher insulin level than people of the same weight who do not have the disease. Excessive intake of the wrong foods, especially starches and sugars, can increase insulin levels, creating this appearance.
What is acanthosis nigricans?
Acanthosis nigricans is a skin disease that leaves the skin looking velvety and with dark brown to black spots on areas of the body, including the neck, armpits, groin and under the breasts.
The condition can affect healthy people, or it can be associated with certain medications.
Sometimes, acanthosis nigricans is congenital, but it is more common in those with type 2 diabetes, are obese or have an endocrine disorder.
Diabetes.co.uk said: “Acanthosis nigricans is a relatively common skin condition that is one of the symptoms of diabetes.
“Acanthosis nigricans is characterized by the darkening of the skin in specific areas, such as the neck and armpits.
“It is not a dangerous condition in itself, but it is usually a sign of the presence of a problematic condition, such as type 2 diabetes and, sometimes, cancer.
“The signs of acanthosis nigricans are quite distinct and result in a darkening of the skin around the folds of the skin.
"In addition to being darker, the skin can feel leathery or velvety and can itch or smell."
Why the skin is affected due to blood sugar levels
When a person eats, his body converts carbohydrates into sugar molecules, such as glucose.
Part of this glucose is used for energy in the cells while the rest is stored.
The hormone insulin must allow glucose to enter cells so that cells can use glucose for energy.
For people who are overweight, a tendency to resist insulin begins to develop over time.
Although the pancreas is producing insulin, the body cannot use it properly.
This creates an accumulation of glucose in the bloodstream, which results in high levels of blood glucose and insulin in the bloodstream.
When a person has excess insulin, it causes normal skin cells to reproduce quickly and in those with dark skin, these new cells have more melanin.
An increase in melanin produces a patch of skin darker than the skin around it.
Thus, the presence of acanthosis nigricans is a strong predictor of early type 2 diabetes.
Diagnosing acanthosis nigricans
Fortunately, the condition is relatively easy to detect and a general practitioner will be able to check diabetes or insulin resistance after recognizing the dark spots.
The tests may include blood glucose tests or fasting insulin tests.
A general practitioner can also review the medications used to verify that they are not the contributing factor to this new change in the appearance of the skin.
With the right lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, it is possible to reverse type 2 diabetes.