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September 12, 1999

Diagnosis and Symptoms

Question from Georgia, USA:

My 17 year old daughter, of Latin descent, has always had a "rusty" neck. She scrubs and scrubs and cannot get it to go away. I recently saw a special on television that indicated this could be a pre-diabetes condition. Have you ever seen any research on this condition?

Answer:

The condition you are referring to is called “acanthosis nigricans” (AN). A silly sounding name for a rusty neck. AN is a velvety and darker change to the surface of the skin and can be found commonly on the neck, but also on the armpits and groin. This is most frequently seen in middle-age women who develop insulin resistance (where the body doesn’t respond appropriately to insulin). AN can be related to other problems or disorders such as lupus, thyroid disorders, obesity, and a condition where there are cysts on the ovaries. This problem should be discussed with your primary care physician.

MSB