Acanthosis Nigricans: Dark, Thickened, Velvety Patches On The Skin!

Acanthosis Nigricans: Dark, Thickened, Velvety Patches On The Skin!

Acanthosis Nigricans, Insulin Resistance And Pre Diabetes!

Development of dark, thickened, often slightly raised and velvety patches on the skin could be a sign of a condition called Acanthosis Nigricans. These patches can sometimes be accompanied by itching.

The areas commonly affected are the neck, armpits, groin, elbows, knees, and knuckles.

Acanthosis Nigricans is strongly linked to insulin resistance.

When carbohydrates are digested, they are absorbed in blood as sugar and the blood sugar levels increase.

In response to this the pancreas releases insulin in blood and insulin helps transport the sugar to various tissues of the body and under its influence, the cells of the tissues take up sugar from the blood and utilise it for the energy that they require for their functions.

Under the influence of insulin the liver also stores more sugar for providing energy to the body later.

This lowers the blood sugar and the blood insulin levels.

But when you eat too much sweets or sugary food regularly, the pancreas is forced to produce more insulin to bring down the blood sugar to normal.

After a while the cells of the various tissues stop responding adequately to the insulin and do not absorb sugar efficiently.

This means the cells of the tissues develop insulin resistance.

This causes both, the blood sugar and the blood insulin levels to stay high.

This raised blood level of insulin is called hyperinsulinemia.

To compensate, the pancreas produces more insulin.

Insulin promotes the synthesis of protein and fat molecules and provides the energy to help in cell growth.

Hyperinsulinemia causes skin cells to reproduce more quickly, leading to the characteristic skin changes in development of the condition of acanthosis nigricans.

When the capacity of the liver and the muscle cells to store sugar is over, the excess blood sugar is stored in the fat cells of various fat depots in the body and our weight increases, gradually leading to obesity.

Hyperinsulinemia and the insulin resistance lead to the development of pre diabetes.

People with pre diabetes have higher than normal blood sugar levels which are not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Fasting blood sugar levels between 110 to 125 (WHO) or 100 to 125 (American Diabetes Association) and glycated haemoglobin or HbA1c levels between 5.7 to 6.4 per cent are diagnostic of pre diabetes.

Blood sugar levels and HbA1c levels higher than this are diagnostic of diabetes.

People with pre diabetes are most likely to develop full fledged diabetes especially if they have strong family history of diabetes, obesity and sedentary lifestyle.

Other conditions in which Acanthosis Nigricans can occur are obesity, PCOD, thyroid disease, especially hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease and rarely it is associated with some cancers.

The underlying condition in obesity and PCOD that causes these Acanthosis Nigricans patches is insulin resistance.

If you have such patches on the body, please see you doctor and get them diagnosed.

If they are patches of Acanthosis Nigricans you are likely to have insulin resistance and pre diabetes.

You will need to develop healthy food habits, cut out sugary foods and other simple carbohydrates from your food, eat nutritionally balanced food, exercise regularly, reduce your weight, keep stress low and sleep well.

And don’t wait to start all these things till you catch diabetes!

If you start now, you could most likely prevent the development of insulin resistance and pre diabetes and get rid of these patches!

Also read ‘Insulin Resistance And Diabetes’ and ‘Understanding Pre Diabetes’ on this website.

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