Dark Spots Around Your Cheeks & Neck: How Harmful Are They?
Throughout our lives, our bodies share signs that tell us what we are doing wrong, right or need to change. Our skin is no different. Many overweight African Americans have dark spots on their skin on their face, specifically around their cheeks and on the neck. Are these bad for your health?
What Is It?
The dark spots you see are called Acanthosis nigricans and has been linked to obesity, insulin resistance, endocrine disorders, familial inheritance, genetic variations, internal malignancies, and a plethora of drugs. This hyperpigmentation typically occurs in commonly visible areas of the skin, such as the cheeks and neck. It may also occur on the scalp and palms. Rarely it is a sign of cancer.
Most patients who have the more limited and slower-onset facial acanthosis nigricans are obese and have hyperinsulinemia; that’s the kind of hyperpigmentation that usually develops over the temples and forehead. In one reported case, however, a non-obese child with no known endocrine abnormalities or underlying malignancy had acanthosis nigricans in the alar and melolabial folds.
How Is It Treated?
Aesthetic treatment is generally ineffective, although lactic acid, topical urea, salicylic acid, calcipotriol, and retinoids have all been used with anecdotal success. In one reported case, a patient with long-standing facial acanthosis nigricans, which had proved resistant to dermabrasion, tretinoin, calcipotriol, and systemic etretinate, noted aesthetic improvement after carbon dioxide laser resurfacing.
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