What’s that Ring Around Your Neck?

Posted on August 21, 2011


Why it’s acanthosis nigricans. I remember learning about this skin disorder characterized by dark, thick skin in the folds and creases of the body when I was in school. While acanthosis nigricans can develop for any number of reasons, I became fascinated by this disorder because most often it is an indicator of insulin resistance which is on the pathway to diabetes.

In my outpatient practice, I saw this darkening of the skin around the neck frequently on teenagers – usually obese teenagers with a strong family history of diabetes. To help them see that their current lifestyle choices were negatively affecting their health, I would educate them on acanthosis nigricans and point out the ring around their neck. Most parents believed that the ring was just a line of dirt and would often send the child back to the shower or even try to rub it off themselves. Whenever I had a concern, I encouraged the family to see their physician and I would also send a letter with my recommendations to the referring physician. 
Well, you can imagine my displeasure, then, when during my physical this past week my doctor pointed out that I had the ring around my neck and that under my armpits were darkening as well. Truthfully, I wasn’t completely surprised. I noticed the developing darkness last year and asked a health professional (not my doc) her opinion and she said I was in the all clear. I put it out of my head and forgot to ask my physician at the time. Fast forward a year and my current doc is talking to me about pre-diabetes. 
The darkening of the skin can also be attributed to hormone intake such as the pill and I have been on the pill for  many, many years; however, with a 30 lb weight gain in the past 3 years and a current BMI of 31, I have to be realistic that I may be insulin resistant. And it’s not just ‘the ring’. There have been other signs as well but being in the health field, I am paranoid about self-diagnosing so I ignored my gut instinct.
Nevertheless, I was shaken by the news and I reverted back to my usual place of comfort – food. For three days, I went a little wild with eating. 30 Days in the Raw went out the window as did vegan eating. Considering the news, it’s a strange reaction I understand but it’s done. I don’t have a family history of diabetes so I don’t want to be the first and I certainly don’t want this to be my legacy to my future children. 
Today I re-committed to 30 Days in the Raw! I’m on the brink but I have a choice and that choice is to beat the disease. And I will.
Staying positive.
– Kareen, RD
Posted in: raw, vegan