Dark spots on the neck or the back can embarrass and worry many people. Acanthus nigricans is the name for these dark spots on the neck or the back. Such spots can also appear on other parts of the body, like the armpits, groin, navel, forehead, elbows, knees, anus, etc. It is not only a skin problem, but in most cases, an underlying disease is behind it.
Typically, individuals under the age of 40 experience this problem. Although there are many reasons, according to medical science, the main reason is an excess of the hormone called insulin in the body when insulin cannot work properly or becomes resistant. Medical science suggests that this condition causes the growth of certain skin cells by activating more insulin receptors.
Apart from this, it is associated with some other hormonal and other diseases. Such as type-2 diabetes, obesity, hypothyroidism, growth hormone excess, Cushing’s syndrome, polycystic ovarian syndrome, congenital causes, cancer, etc.
Darkening of the skin can also be a symptom of an underlying disease. Complications caused by excess weight or obesity may also cause symptoms. Such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and liver problems due to excess cholesterol. In a word, you should be aware of metabolic syndrome, unwanted body hair and irregular menstruation (polycystic ovarian syndrome), short penis and delayed puberty, breathing problems, bone and muscle pain, etc.
Diagnosis of diseases and causes
If it is due to genetic reasons, this disease can appear at birth. The slower the problem manifests, the less harmful it is. An adequate history and examination of other physical problems (such as excess or deficiency of cortisol hormones, thyroid, androgen, and growth hormone imbalances, and cancer) are required to find the cause. If in doubt, other tests, including blood and even a biopsy, may be needed.
Treatment and Prevention
Treatment is primarily based on the cause. If the cause can be removed, the disease will be cured; otherwise, external care of the skin will not be effective. Appropriate measures should be taken if the cause is due to medicine or disease.
If it is due to obesity, you must lose weight as per the doctor’s advice. In that case, a long-term plan should be taken so that the insulin level in the body gradually decreases.
If there are secondary complications, they should be treated. Be aware of being underweight before other complications arise.
Dr. Ravi Biswas, Child Hormone Pathologist, Associate Professor, Dhaka Children’s Hospital
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