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Black Neck: Treatment, Causes, and Diagnosis

Dr Rohit Bhaskar
Dr Rohit Bhaskar
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If your neck darkens or turns black, you may also notice changes in skin texture, such as thickening. Although this may be alarming or may make you self-conscious, it is not a cause of concern in most cases. However, sometimes, skin darkening can be a sign of more serious underlying health issues.

Black Neck

This article explores the symptoms, possible causes, and treatment options for a black neck. Keep reading to learn more.

What Does Having A Black Neck Mean?

Black neck, also known as dark neck or acanthosis nigricans, is a condition where the skin around your neck is noticeably darker than the surrounding skin.

Most often, acanthosis nigricans affects the neck, groin, and armpits. The dark areas typically turn velvety and can become thickened. It may also appear in body folds such as the knuckles, knees, and elbows.

While some may assume that a black neck occurs due to lack of hygiene or repeated friction due to neckpieces, this is untrue. In reality, a dark neck is a sign of having too much insulin in your blood. If you notice any symptoms, it's essential to test your blood sugar and promptly seek a diabetologist's advice.

Obesity is another reason for a black neck. Furthermore, children who develop this condition are at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. In rare cases, acanthosis nigricans may be a warning sign of a cancerous tumor in your internal organs like the liver or stomach.

Symptoms Of Black Neck

The primary symptoms of a black neck are:

  • Hyperpigmentation - skin becoming darker
  • Hyperkeratosis - skin becoming thicker
  • Velvety patches

Other symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Dryness
  • An unusual odor
  • Excessive roughness
  • A gradual change of color
  • Redness, swelling or warmth
Black Neck

Most often seen in the armpits, groin, or neck, it can also show up in the feet' soles, knuckles, palms lips, and other areas.

If you face any severe symptoms like the following, you must consult with a doctor.

  • Depression
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Loss of appetite
  • Missed periods
  • Pain in the abdominal region

What Causes Black Neck?

Black neck or acanthosis nigricans can affect both healthy individuals or those with certain medical conditions. At times, it’s congenital, meaning a person is born with it.

You will often find this in people with obesity or elevated insulin blood level, such as diabetes. Other probable causes include:

  • Some cholesterol medications, including nicotinic acid
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Hypothyroidism (low levels of the thyroid hormone due to low activity levels of the thyroid gland)
  • Growth hormone therapy
  • Disorders of the pituitary gland
  • Addison’s disease, a deficiency of hormones from the adrenal gland

Those with acanthosis nigricans have higher levels of insulin than those without the condition. An unbalanced diet consisting of sugars, starches, and other wrong foods may raise insulin levels and cause obesity. 

How To Treat Black Neck?

The key to eliminating and preventing a black neck is to treat the underlying condition that is causing it. In some instances, you can completely resolve the discoloration once you manage the condition.

If the pigmentation is drug-induced, you can improve or make it disappear when you stop taking the specific medication. For instance, when a black neck results from insulin resistance, you can solve it with weight loss.

Sometimes even when you treat the underlying condition, you may continue to notice long-term or permanent discoloration, which lingers on. While you cannot help but feel shy or embarrassed, numerous alternatives can help turn your skin to its original color.

You can use medications that contain tretinoin, lactic acid, or glycolic acid to get rid of pigmentation. A combination of medicines, along with treatments works best. Your dermatologist will be able to guide you in the right direction.

B. Chemical Peels

Chemical peels help exfoliate dead skin to unveil fresher, newer skin. Although considered cosmetic, they're effective medical treatments, especially if you want to get rid of darkened skin.

An experienced dermatologist will help you choose the right peel to achieve the desired result with no risks. The results take anywhere from eight weeks or more to show, so you need to be patient.

C. Microdermabrasion

Those looking to improve the appearance of pigmented skin can turn to microdermabrasion. It is a painless, non-invasive exfoliation treatment performed by a trained professional that rejuvenates and improves the skin's surface.

You need to repeat the procedure every two to four weeks or as suggested by your dermatologist for better results.

D. Lasers

Laser treatment makes use of targeted beams of light to reduce hyperpigmentation. The new skin cells that form give the skin a tighter, younger-looking surface. If you're planning to go in with laser treatment, a dermatologist can guide you properly.

2. Creams And Ointments

One of the first-line treatment options for a black neck is topical retinoids. Other brightening treatments work well for the skin around the neck region, making it easier to penetrate the skin. Look for products that contain alpha-hydroxy acids or AHAs such as glycolic and lactic acids, antioxidants, and Vitamin C.

3. Home Remedies

A. Apple Cider Vinegar For Black Neck

Apple cider vinegar helps balance the pH level of the skin. The presence of malic acid helps remove dead skin cells, giving your skin a natural glow.

Apply a combination of four tablespoons of water and two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with a cotton ball on your neck. Leave it on for ten minutes before rinsing it off with water. For best results, do this every day.


ACV can make your skin dry, so ensure you moisturize thoroughly after this procedure.

B. Baking Soda For Black Neck

Baking soda is excellent for getting rid of dead skin cells, removing dirt, and nourishing your skin from within. Mix some water and two to three tablespoons of baking soda to form a smooth paste. Apply it to the affected area and leave it on for a few minutes. Once it dries, use wet fingers to scrub it off and then rinse with water.

You can repeat this every day to see the desired results. Like with the apple cider vinegar method, you need to moisturize thoroughly after using baking soda.

C. Potato Juice For Black Neck

Potato possesses qualities that are known to lighten the skin considerably. It also helps eliminate dark patches and evens out your skin tone.

Grate one small potato and squeeze the juice out of it. Apply this mixture to the affected areas. Allow it to dry completely, and once it does, rinse it off with water. Repeat this once or twice daily.

D. Ubtan For Black Neck

One of the best home remedies for a black neck is to whip up a traditional ubtan using herbs and powders. An ubtan can help lighten and brighten your skin while adding a soft glow.

Combine two tablespoons of besan (gram flour), half teaspoon lemon juice, a dash of turmeric, and some rose water to form a medium consistency paste. Spread the mixture on your neck, leave it on for about fifteen minutes, and rinse with water. You can do this twice a week.

E. Almond Oil For Black Neck

Almond oil is rich in Vitamin E, which helps rejuvenate and smoothen the skin while improving its complexion.

To reduce pigmentation, all you have to do is mix almond oil with tea tree oil or coconut oil and massage it into the affected area for about 10-15 minutes. Do this regularly to notice results.

Black Neck

How Is Black Neck Diagnosed?

If you notice darkening around your neck, you must visit a doctor. A black neck is sometimes a sign of thyroid and pre-diabetes. [3] Doctors can diagnose its cause by examining the affected area. They may check your blood sugar levels and recommend other tests such as X-rays and blood tests if necessary.

Prevention Tips

If a black neck is related to obesity, losing weight will be an essential part of prevention. Here’s what you can do:

  • Replace refined carbohydrates with whole-grain foods
  • Consume foods rich in fiber like fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce snacking on foods with high saturated fats like samosas, pastries, chips, and biscuits
  • Drink low-fat milk or skim milk instead of whole milk. Similarly, wheat bread instead of milk bread
  • Consume meals low in fat
  • Drink lots of water
  • Regularly exercise
  • Manage stress

Other preventive strategies include treating underlying problems associated with a black neck such as diabetes or hypothyroidism and staying away from medications that aggravate or worsen the condition.

Wrapping Up

It's essential to recognize the early signs of acanthosis nigricans. Paying heed to its symptoms gives you a window of opportunity to intervene early, change your lifestyle, and prevent the unnecessary. Since a black neck could also be a warning of a more severe condition, it's important to meet with your dermatologist to diagnose the issue and seek the right treatment.

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