Friday, December 13, 2013

Acanthosis Nigricans AKA crappy diabetic skin

I went to the doctor yesterday because I haven't been feeling well. Of course she ordered blood work and believe it or not I just marched myself down to the lab and had it done. All by myself.
This is actually a huge accomplishment for me. I am terrified of needles. I put off getting my blood drawn like some people put off a root canal or doing their taxes. Usually I drag my mom with me. I honestly think I take her with me to make sure I don't flake out, oh and then we usually get breakfast afterwards.

But yesterday my mom wasn't with me. I was all by my lonesome. Well I am an adult and I decided, I can do this. (Never too late to grow up right...I say this yet I am very grown up, I have a husband, a career and two dogs....) And you know what, it was literally the easiest blood draw I've ever experienced. It didn't hurt at all, and it fact I barely felt it. The woman was amazing. Will I continue to do blood draws on my own?  :)  No, if she's free, I'll still drag my mom with me, because then we can go get breakfast afterwards.

The point of this story though is to tell you about my doctor's appointment. Literally everything I complained about my doctor told me was text book examples of poor diabetes control. To name one of my issues...

Acanthosis nigricans

Women's neck with Acanthosis Nigricans
(this is not my neck, but this is an
accurate photo of the condition)
I read on line that the majority of cases of acanthosis nigricans are associated with obesity and is likely because of insulin resistance, and more likely to occur in darker-skinned persons. I find this interesting because yes I have diabetes, but I wouldn't consider myself obese, but this is a reality check because according to my BMI I am obese. Another interesting thing I am not a darker skinned person, in fact I'm one of the palest people you'll meet.
My doctor said there is not direct cure or treatment for this condition however it is reversible after years of good diabetic control. Which is in line with what I read on line, that obesity related acanthosis nigricans will improve with weight loss and controlling blood glucose levels through exercise and diet often improves symptoms.
I have had this skin condition for a few years now. I actually thought for a while it was caused by my necklace, that it must have been poor quality metal. I gave up wearing my necklace for months, but of course it never cleared up. My doctor did proscribe me prescription strength lightening cream but because its a cosmetic prescription I couldn't front the $96 bill for it. (Its Christmas time, I'm beyond broke right now). But there are several makeup companies that sell lightening cream. The difference, over the counter brands contain 2% of the whitening chemical compounds, while prescription creams contain 4%. I think for now I'll try the 2% and see if it helps, in fact, Mary Kay just released a dark spot reducer product for $40.
I'll give this a try and let you know how it works. It won't make my skin perfect I know. But if it could make the skin discoloration a little less noticeable, I'd really appreciate it. It would be nice to wear an updo with my hair again.
Does anyone else have this problem? What do you do to treat it? I guess as a woman I have it a little better. I can cover my neck with my hair. Well know you aren't alone, and its not your fault (unless it is, because like me your blood sugars aren't under control) but at least you know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Get your diabetes in check and this may go away.