Acanthosis Nigricans Medication

Updated: Oct 14, 2020
  • Author: Jason H Miller, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Medication Summary

The goal of pharmacotherapy in acanthosis nigricans is to improve cosmetic appearance.


Topical retinoids

Class Summary

These agents promote shedding of hyperkeratotic skin. They are modifiers of keratinocyte adhesion, differentiation, and proliferation.

Tretinoin topical (Avita, Retin-A)

Topical tretinoin promotes detachment of cornified cells and enhances shedding of corneocytes. It inhibits microcomedo formation and eliminates lesions that are present. Tretinoin makes keratinocytes in sebaceous follicles less adherent and easier to remove. It is available as 0.025%, 0.05%, and 0.1% creams and as 0.01% and 0.025% gels.


Keratolytic Agent

Ammonium lactate

Ammonium lactate is an alpha-hydroxy acid; it is a normal constituent of tissues and blood. Ammonium lactate is believed to act as a humectant when applied to the skin. This may influence hydration of the stratum corneum. In addition, when applied to the skin, it may act to decrease corneocyte cohesion. The mechanism(s) by which this is accomplished is not yet known.