Acanthosis nigricans: How to Get Rid of a Dark Neck


Acanthosis nigricans is a skin condition, a darkening of the neck. Let’s find out the best home remedies to lighten the dark skin on your neck.

What is Acanthosis Nigricans? Dark skin around the neck can be due to a disorder called Acanthosis nigricans. It is a skin condition characterized by areas of dark, velvety hyperpigmentation. It is usually found in body folds and creases in the neck, armpits, navel, forehead, knuckles, and knees.

It may occur in obese people and in those with elevated insulin blood level, like diabetes patients. Other causes include cholesterol medications, oral contraceptives, hypothyroidism, growth hormone therapy, and Addison’s disease.

Acanthosis nigricans causes thicker (hyperkeratosis) and darker (hyperpigmentation) patches or streaks around joints. In itself it is not harmful, neither contagious. But you may also experience:

  • Itching
  • Dryness
  • Excessive roughness
  • Unusual odor
  • Redness, swelling or warmth

Why does Acanthosis Nigricans Occur?

There may be wrong assumptions as regards this condition: it does not appear because of lack of hygiene or repeated friction due to neckpieces. In fact, a dark neck is a sign of having too much insulin in your blood. If you notice these signs, contact your doctor and test your blood sugar. Another reason for a dark neck is obesity. Only in rare cases a black neck may be a warning sign of a cancerous tumor in internal organs, such as the liver or stomach. Visit your doctor if you also see the following signs:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Depression

How do I get Rid of a Black Neck?

As we mentioned before, a darker neck may be a symptom of an underlying condition. Once this primary condition is solved, the discoloration may be resolved. Consult your dermatologist on the best medicines for you.

This condition may cause the patient to feel self-conscious or embarrassed about his or her skin. Apart from the treatment prescribed by a doctor, it is also helpful for your self-confidence to talk to a friend, counselor or professional or in a peer support group. Do not underestimate how awesome it is to get support from your loved ones.

Acanthosis Nigricans: Cosmetic Treatments

A professional may prescribe some medications with lactic acid, glycolic acid or tretinoin; and treatments like chemical peels, microdermabrasion and lasers.

  • Chemical peels: they can be very effective and are performed by cosmetologists or skin specialists. Some common medical treatments are TCA chemical peel, which exfoliates peel or fractional carbon dioxide laser, and retinol peel (this one can be used at home).
  • Microdermabrasion: it is a physical medi-exfoliation of the dark skin performed by a trained physician. The newest method uses diamond crystal hand piece, which has the best results.
  • Lasers: lasers are focused light beams. Laser therapy is the latest technology. This is a cosmetic treatment which uses the heat emitted by the laser targeting the hyperpigmented skin.

A skin specialist may recommend using creams and ointments with topical retinoids or other brightening creams containing alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), like lactic acids, antioxidants and vitamin C.

Acanthosis Nigricans: Home Remedies

  • Apple cider vinegar: it contains acetic acid, which lightens pigmentation. Dilute apple cider vinegar with water in equal parts and apply it on your skin. Wash it off after a few minutes. Repeat every day.
  • Baking soda: Baking soda helps remove dirt and nourishes skin from within. Mix 2 or 3 tablespoons with water to form a paste, and apply it to the affected area. Leave it for a few minutes, and, once dry, scrub it off with water. Repeat this every day and always use a moisturizer afterwards.
  • Potato juice: it lightens your skin since it has bleaching properties (potatoes have an enzyme called catecholase that bleaches and lightens the skin). Grate a small potato and squeeze the juice out. Apply this juice with a cotton ball, once dry, rinse it off with water. You can also mix it with lemon juice. Apply this mask daily.
  • Aloe vera gel: it contains aloin, a natural depigmenting agent. Apply pure aloe vera gel at night and wash it off in the morning. You can also apply it as a mask, let it sit for 20 minutes, and then rinse it with cold water. Do it once a week.
  • Almond oil: it is rich in vitamin E, which rejuvenates and smooths your skin. Mix almond oil with tea tree oil or coconut oil and massage the darkened area for 10-15 minutes. Do it twice a week.
  • Lemon juice: if you mix lemon juice with rosewater in equal parts and apply on dark areas, the citric acid and vitamin C in lemon juice will help lighten the hyperpigmented areas. Use the rosewater if you have sensitive skin, but if you have normal skin you can use only de lemon juice. Apply the mix on the skin and leave it on for 20 minutes, then rinse with cold water. Do this every night for a month.

Dark Armpits: How to Lighten them?

Underarms can turn darker as well. If you feel self-conscious about their color, you may follow the following tips (although the ones mentioned above work for your armpits too):

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and mix it with one of olive oil. Dampen the armpit area and scrub the mixture for one minute, then leave for 10 minutes and rinse with water. Sugar is a great natural exfoliant and olive oil nourishes the skin. Do this once a week.
  2. Cut a slice of cucumber and rub it on the skin. Let the cucumber juice remain on your skin for 10 minutes, and then rinse with water. Cucumber not only has bleaching properties but also a lot of vitamins and minerals.
  3. Switch to a hypoallergenic deodorant. Irritation can lead to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.

Prevention tips

As we previously mentioned, a dark neck may be due to other conditions such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, or obesity. If the latter is your case, losing weight is an essential step to prevent acanthosis nigricans. Visit a nutritionist, who will be able to give you the best diet plan for your needs. These are some tips:

  • Consume meals low in fat
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Consume foods rich in fiber, like fruits and vegetables
  • Find positive ways to manage stress
  • Reduce snacking, junk food, and refined carbohydrates (these should be replaced with whole-grain foods)
  • Always use sunscreen on the neck area, since this part of the body is almost always exposed to UV-rays.

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