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Acanthosis nigricans is a general term that describes a symptom -- a blackening of the skin -- not a specific skin condition. Although acanthosis nigricans is not dangerous by itself, the underlying condition causing it may be, so it is important to consult a doctor if the symptom appears. Various factors and diseases can lead to acanthosis nigricans, and treatment and prognosis depend on the initial cause.

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1. What is Acanthosis Nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans is a discoloration, or hyperpigmentation, of the skin, often coupled with a thickening that results in a velvety texture. The symptom may be benign or malignant. Malignant acanthosis nigricans is caused by cancerous cells in the body, while the benign forms have a variety of causes. The condition can affect people of all ages and genders.

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