Acanthosis Nigricans

This is the medical terminology of a certain skin disease that manifests itself with blackening of the skin and hair loss. The dark pigmentation usually starts in “friction” areas of the body like the armpits and groin, but may also be seen on the abdomen, chest, hock, forelimbs and anal area.  The skin may become thickened, greasy, smelly, and crusty, especially if not diagnosed early and treated. It is believed there is a hereditary link as it is seen more frequently in Dachshunds, Cockers, and Pugs. There are two forms of this disease: primary, which is mostly in young Dachshunds under one year of age and considered treatable but not curable, and secondary, which is the result of other causes such as yeast and bacterial infections which are curable, once the cause is eliminated. Other possible causes  include: hypothyroidism, allergic dermatitis, mange, and obesity. Both forms of this disease can be treated and although the primary one is considered  not curable, the symptoms can be lessened and the dog made more comfortably. If hypothyroidism is involved, supplementation with synthetic thyroid is required along with other treatment regimens mentioned below. Allergic dermatitis is the most common cause which could be from food, inhalants like pollen, or from direct contact with something the body is allergic to. Obesity is becoming more and more the culprit as it is so much more common than years ago. With obesity come excess folds of skin, fat, and friction areas. Friction leads to inflammation, infection, and the deposit of the black pigment known as “melanin”, thus the dark appearance of the skin. Once the cause is established, the therapy consists of frequent medicated baths, corticosteroids to relieve the inflammation and scratching, antibiotics for infection, and of course weight loss if necessary. In some cases, Vitamin E supplementation has been shown to help in the recovery process.

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