Signs of insulin resistance - Acanthosis nigricans

Posted by Melissa Callaghan on




This is a skin condition that is often ignored mainly due to people not recognising it as an issue or a sign of something else going on in the body.

These spots of dark discolouration usually occur in the skin folds and creases.  Often the armpits, groin area, and neck. It can also appear in elbows, knees, lips, palms, soles of feet, and knuckles. The skin can become thick and have a kind of velvety feel to it.  

The change in skin colour usually happens slowly and there may also be an odour or an itch connected to it. 

This can happen at any age and is also seen in children as well as adults. In the beginning you may just think your skin is dirty and try to clean it but no amount of rubbing will get rid of it. 

There are often no other symptoms that you may be experiencing that you have noticed or connected.   

This is a sign that I look for in my clinic when assessing early stages of prediabetes.

As a condition on its own it isn't too concerning, it is however, an indication that there is something else that needs to be addressed and that's insulin resistance!!!

Almost 75% of children with type 2 diabetes develop this condition according to the American diabetes association. 

When insulin sensitivity is improved it tends to go away.

What is the main cause of acanthosis nigricans?

The skin cells in the epidermal layer are beginning to reproduce rapidly and this is caused by high levels of insulin in the blood. This is the most common cause other causes may include medications, cancer or other medical conditions.

Insulin is needed to allow glucose to enter into cells so that it can be used for energy, when the glucose levels become high then more insulin is required so the pancrease just keeps making more and more of it. Due to diet choices, predominately choosing unhealthy fats even from a young age changes occur in your muscle, liver and fat cells where fat deposits from food build up and then the cells become resistant to insulins instructions to let glucose into these cells and this the beginning stages of type 2 diabetes. Eventually the pancreas gives up on releasing more insulin, usually after about 10-20 years of trying which is this time when your blood glucose levels rise and you are told that you have type 2 diabetes. Completely preventable and reversable with changes made to food choices and preparations. 

As a Naturopath I am always looking for signs of insulin resistance prior to blood glucose levels rising and work on reversing it straight away. 

This is one of the signs that I look for, amongst many other to make my assessments. 

Improvements are seen so quickly which helps keep you motivated.

Who am I?

I am a Bachelor qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist who specialises in improving metabolic processes in the body. Major areas for improvement include gut, thyroid, kidney, skin and liver health. Conditions such as hypothyroidism, fatty liver, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type II diabetes, & irritable bowel conditions. I help my patients by giving them symptomatic relief while working on repairing the underlying causes of metabolic stress and waste accumulation. Patients experience amazing results which are seen in their blood tests with improved thyroid markers, cholesterol, and liver markers.  As well as lower blood pressure and see relief from improved gastrointestinal symptoms like the ones that mean you need to know where every single toilet is before you leave the house. 

Melissa Callaghan ND, BHSc, BTeach
Clinical Naturopath


To book an appointment click here 

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