Acanthosis Nigricans PCOS

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormone imbalance that can cause irregular periods, excess hair (hirsutism), and acne. The name “Poly”, meaning “many”, and “Cystic”, meaning “cysts”, refers to the fact that those with PCOS may have enlarged ovaries that contain many very small cysts. These small cysts also called follicles develop in the ovary but the eggs are only rarely released. The outer wall of the ovaries thickens giving the ovary a polycystic appearance.

These cysts are not cancerous and do not need to be surgically removed. It is not uncommon for girls with PCOS to have normal appearing ovaries but still have an imbalance in their hormone levels. Generally, symptoms of PCOS begin during the teenage years around the start of menstruation and can be mild or severe. The extent of symptoms and their severity varies significantly among young women. What most health care providers will agree on is that young women with this disorder have irregular menstrual cycles that are abnormal for their age and that continue for a minimum of one year and elevated serum testosterone levels in the absence of other possible medical conditions.

Many adolescents with PCOS have higher levels of the hormone, insulin, in their blood. Higher levels of insulin can sometimes cause patches of darkened skin on the back of the neck, under the arms, and in the groin area. This condition is called acanthosis nigricans.

Can PCOS cause acanthosis nigricans?

Acanthosis nigricans is most commonly associated with the disorders which are associated with insulin resistance, which include obesity, T2DM, and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)