Medical dermatology is the discipline dedicated to the health and treatment of the skin, hair and nails. The skin, as the body’s largest organ, sends us signals about our overall health. While dermatologists are highly skilled in making diagnoses based on skin conditions, the observant patient and parent can often alert a dermatologist to a potential problem. A dermatological condition called acanthosis nigricans presents itself as dark, hyperpigmented patches of skin with the most common affected areas being the skin around the neck, skin folds, groin and arm pits. Some patients or parents of children may confuse this skin condition with failing to maintain proper bathing hygiene because the skin impacted by acanthosis nigricans may look dirty. Some patients complain that they developed a ring around their neck. Acanthosis nigricans is associated with Type 1 diabetes (i.e., juvenile diabetes/insulin dependent diabetes) and pre-diabetic conditions. It is also found in 90% of children who develop Type 2 diabetes (i.e., insulin resistance triggered by obesity and/or unhealthy lifestyle). Diabetes, whether Type 1 or Type 2 is a serious condition that can be life threatening if left undetected and/or untreated. Many patients with diabetes or a pre-diabetic condition are unaware that they have the disease. Therefore, knowing about acanthosis nigricans as a patient and a parent could save a life. Usually, a patient with diabetes learns of his/her disease through symptoms that affect the skin and hair. Therefore, should you notice anything out of the ordinary with your own skin or hair, schedule an appointment with a board certified dermatologist. The medical dermatologists at West Houston Dermatology Laser & Skin Care Center can answer your questions, treat your skin condition, and help you determine if something beyond the skin is at issue. Listening to and observing your skin is important and it might even save your life.