Q: How can I treat hyperpigmentation caused by diabetes? – D. P.
A: The hyperpigmentation you speak of is called acanthosis nigricans (AN). Acanthosis nigricans (ak-an-THOE-sis NIE-grih-kuns) is a skin condition that causes dark discoloration in the folds and creases of the body, typically seen in the armpits, neck and groin. The affected skin can also become thickened and may smell bad.
Acanthosis nigricans, which can be diagnosed by a dermatologist, is not a disease; it is a symptom of another condition that my require medical attention, such as pre-diabetes, diabetes or thyroid disease.
To clear AN, you have to treat the condition that is causing it. In a nutshell, you must change your eating habits, exercise and lose weight so that you can gain control of your diabetes. This will help you get the acanthosis nigricans under control.
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If it is unsightly and embarrassing the dark patches may be covered by cosmetics or lightened with prescription skin lighteners. This will not cure the symptom because the root cause (diabetes) is still present, but it can provide some relief.