Certain skin conditions are directly associated with Type 2 diabetes. One condition in particular, is called acanthosis nigricans. The condition differs from most other diabetic skin conditions in that the individual does not have to be a full-blown diabetic to get it. It can also be found in those individuals who are predisposed to developing Type 2 diabetes.
Acanthosis nigricans is when there is a hyperpigmentation, or abundance of melanin, of the skin. As a result, the skin will appear darker in color, ranging from a grayish tint to brown. In individuals who naturally have darker skin, the skin color will be even more noticeably brown in contrast.
Sometimes acanthosis nigricans is congenital, but it is often found when people are obese and/or have a glandular problem. It is frequently found in people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, and is extremely common among people of African descent.
The thickened dark skin that looks like velvet is often seen:
- at the back of the neck,
- on the forehead,
- in the skin folds of armpits and groin, and can affect
- pressure areas such as the elbows and knuckles.
When found in people with central or abdominal obesity, they usually carry a risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Skin tags are often found in the same people.
Ananthosis nigricans occurs because of a number of factors. Some believe it to be genetically inherited with the predominant cause being obesity and insulin resistance. The more blood sugar levels are allowed to run out of control, the worse the condition will appear.
When insulin resistance is present, the body produces more and more insulin. These high insulin levels collect in, among other places, the skin. However, the same results can be obtained from certain types of medications that raise insulin levels too high.
The more overweight the person is, the more skin there is to fold over and the worse the condition will appear. Although the condition is not painful, there are instances where it can produce itching.
A doctor will be able to identify aganthosis nigricans simply by a visual examination. In some instances, a skin biopsy might be ordered, but this is rare.
This condition itself is not fatal, nor are there usually residual complications arising from it. However, in some very extreme cases, the condition has been likened to malignant skin conditions so this is why a biopsy is sometimes ordered.
The best form of treatment for this condition is to treat the underlying cause. In most cases, it is due to insulin resistance. Therefore, getting the diabetic’s blood sugar levels under control is essential to recovery.
If the condition is present in someone who has not been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, they should see their doctor so the cause can be identified. The other causes of aganthosis nigricans include:
- disorders of the pituitary gland in the brain,
- Addisons disease,
- drugs used in growth hormone therapy,
- low levels of the thyroid hormone,
- oral contraceptives.
In time, the darkened velvety patches will begin to fade on their own, simply by the appropriate lifestyle changes being made.
In the case of Type 2 diabetes, the best way is to…
- lower and stabilize blood sugar levels,
- start on a weight management plan, and
- eat more whole foods and less processed foods.
This is the real cure.
The longer the Type 2 diabetic practices these steps, the more likely the darkened patches will continue to fade.
Where hyprothyroidism is concerned… medical treatment will improve both the condition and the appearance of the patches. Avoiding drugs such as oral contraceptives, will also help improve acanthosis nigricans.