Dark Neck Spots: Diabetes, Acanthosis Nigricans?

May 13, 2018

Dark spots on neck or patches on the skin around your neck that seem darker than the surrounding area shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. But certainly a cosmetic problem. However, the change in color may be dreadful and possibly cause you to become more self-conscious.

Normally, these spots look like tiny marks which may or may not be itchy. Most commonly the dark spots on the neck are referred to as solar lentigines, liver, or sunspots.

While spots on the neck aren’t associated with any serious health problems, it’s always important to get examined by a doctor in order to get a proper diagnosis and rule out the possibility of any serious underlying health issues.

Causes of dark spots on the neck

One of the primary causes of liver spots on the neck is excessive exposure to UV radiation whether from the sun lamps, tanning beds, or the sun-which causes skin damage resulting in dark spots.

What causes dark spots on the neck? While a discoloration or a black neck isn’t a cause for concern: however, depending on the severity of the problem, it’s vital to see a dermatologist for an examination to determine the exact cause.

Diabetes and Acanthosis Nigricans

In some cases, dark skin or spots on the neck are associated with other underlying health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, or abnormalities in hormonal changes.

In this case, the darkening skin which is usually described as; feeling velvety due to the dry and rough texture and appears brownish-grey or black with thickened skin, is referred to as Acanthosis Nigricans.


Melasma is a common side effect of pregnancy. The problem manifests itself as dark spots in areas such as the neck, forehead, chest, and breast areas. In some cases, the spots can also appear on the hands.


Acne is a very common condition and without any medical intervention, dark marks, as well as permanent scarring, can appear on the skin in the affected area.


In most cases, the majority of people between the ages of 40-50 develop age spots. They are usually darker than the surrounding region of the skin with varying sizes.

They usually occur on the hands, face, shoulders, arms, or even neck and are a result of overexposure to UV radiation over a long period of time.


Razor bumps can cause blemishes which may appear as dark bumps on the skin. However, these affect men only.

Overexposure to UV rays

Prolonged exposure to Ultraviolet rays can cause black dots on the skin, in areas such as the neck, face, hands, and back.

The black spots are a result of the body’s response to the increased amount of UV exposure, therefore produces more melanin.

Skin pigmentation

Hyperpigmentation can cause dark pigmentation as a result of drugs such as phenytoin, anti-malarial drugs, and NSAIDs among other drugs.

Remedies and treatment for dark neck

Natural remedies

Dark spots on the neck can easily be lightened at home using homemade remedies which act as natural bleaching agents, such as;

  • Lemon juice
  • A mixture of lemon and tomato juice
  • The mixture of onion juice and honey
  • A mixture of milk, honey, and cream
  • Gram flour
  • Tomato juice
  • Papaya
  • Potato juice
Medical treatments

When it comes to brightening dark spots, there are many options to choose from. However, it’s important to consult a specialized doctor or dermatologist to get the best treatment recommendation.

Laser treatment

In some cases, laser treatment can be used to remove unwanted black spots and marks on the skin.

Topical ointments

Over the counter or prescribed creams such as Tretinoin Cream for Removing Black Spots can be used to get rid of dark spots or at least reduce them.

Chemical peels

The chemical peel gets rid of the affected skin and allows the regeneration of new dark spot-free skin. The chemical peels range from mild such as alpha hydroxy acids (glycolic and lactic acid) to moderate acids such as trichloroacetic acid to the strongest kind which is the use of phenol solutions notes American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion

This process acts as an exfoliating procedure that stimulates the regeneration of new skin, gets rid of wrinkles, and brightens the skin.

Possible Causes of Brown Spots on Neck

Have you recently noted some brown spots on your neck? What are they? You should know that any spot on your face or neck region is due to hyperpigmentation. Some people assume any brown spots on the neck is a solar lentigo. However, they have more causes besides the sun.

Brown spots indicate many things. They are not just liver, age, or sunspots as many people will assume. They have many causes which we are going to discuss in detail.

If they are solar lentigines, then you are not likely to get these brown spots in teenagers, but in people who are in their early 40s going upward.

This, however, doesn’t mean that young people can’t get these on the neck. In some rare cases, people below 30 years can also have them.

If you having them? Just know that they are harmless. However, they change how you look and feel about yourself. You should, therefore, consult your doctor to ascertain their actual cause.

Are they solar lentigines?

As you will realize, brown spots on your neck region could be for several reasons. In case you suspect they are sunspots or patches, then, they should not only be confined in the neck region alone. You are likely to see them in other body parts.

According to consumerhealthdigest.com, they can be found in body parts that are directly exposed to the UV rays. These parts may include:

  • The hands
  • Face
  • Arms
  • Legs
  • Shoulders back

Although brown in color, at times they might have multiple colors within one region. For example, it is possible to have brown, black, and gray spots in one body part. You can only identify them by seeing them as they don’t have any symptoms.

Initially, they will appear like small dots. If exposed to UV light for some time, they grow. However, they neither itch nor hurt. Therefore, it is advisable to seek prompt medical attention to address them

According to skintour.com, the neck region is always exposed to UV light. This explains why it is highly susceptible to these spots. Covering your neck with a piece of clothing can prevent it from getting pigmented.

Why does the skin turn brown?

Before discussing the causes, let us examine why the skin turns brown. According to livestrong.com, skin blotches on the neck indicate two things:

  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Hypopigmentation

Hyperpigmentation is usually due to excess production of melanin. Did you know that you look at how you look due to melanin? Just imagine what would happen if the cells in your neck produce excess melanin?

This leads to discoloration. Some parts of your skin become darker while others remain lighter. For dark-skinned people, the neck develops brown patches. For light-skinned people, it develops dark patches.

Hypopigmentation is the opposite of hyperpigmentation. Unlike hyperpigmentation, hypopigmentation involves the limited production of melanin. This is the leading cause of brown spots on the neck.

In most cases, the skin starts with small brown spots. They grow with time to become big white patches. They will be more pronounced among the dark-skinned people. Hypopigmentation is common around the back, shoulders, face, and neck regions.

Brown spots on neck causes

What does a brown spot on neck mean? Is it an infection, sun exposure, or is it just normal? The truth of the matter is these spots on the neck and other body parts, are caused by various reasons and conditions.

The 8 common causes include:


If brown spots on the neck are because of age, then they are known as age spots. According to healthline.com, they are also known as senile lentigo or solar lentigines. They are mainly attributed to the following two factors:

  • Overproduction of melanin
  • Over-exposure to UV light

Apart from this area, you can also develop age spots on the shoulders, back, arms, face, and hands. It is noted people with light skins are at a higher risk of getting them.

UV light

Over-exposure to UV light is the leading cause of both hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation. Somebody parts, such as the neck, are always uncovered, thus getting exposed to UV rays.

According to livestrong.com, the UV light makes your neck cells to produce excess melanin. When this extra melanin is produced, the brown-colored spots will emerge. However, if they are because of UV light exposure, it takes years to form.

Liver problems

If you ask a hepatologist, he will tell you that liver problems may cause skin discoloration. According to liverdoctor.com, brownish spots on necks can be some of the external signs of liver disease.

If this is the case, then you will also have the following symptoms that come along with the liver spots:

  • Skin rashes
  • Yellow eyes
  • Itchy skin
  • Red palms

If you note the above symptoms, see a hepatologist as soon as possible. This may help in preventing further complications such as liver cancer, liver failure, or even liver cirrhosis.

Vitamin B deficiency

If your body lacks vitamin B12, then you are likely to see these spots on your neck and other body parts. Lesions and skin discoloration are highly attributed to vitamin B12 deficiency.

According to livestrong.com, cutaneous manifestations are signs that your body lacks vitamin B12. These manifestations are common in the hands, neck, face, and back.

Allergic reactions

They may not indicate any sickness at all. It might be an allergic reaction to makeup. Some oils and creams used may cause some discoloration. If this is the case, you might have used these creams for long without realizing the danger that you are causing on your skin.

Most of the bleaching agents can also leave patches on your skin. This is common among light-skinned people who wish to make their skin lighter.


Acne is caused by inflammation of the hair follicle. The inflammation is due to the accumulation of oil and dead skin cells. When acne appears on the neck, one develops:

  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Pimples

To clear these acne effects, the skin gets discolored. As a result, one develops brown spots. For other people, the spots are dark in color.

Skin cancer

Though rare, they can signify early symptoms of skin cancer. You shouldn’t, however, get worried as this has not been scientifically proven.


According to the American Academy of Dermatology, most of the symptoms of diabetes are identified on the skin, especially on the neck.

Firstly, one develops yellow or brown patches on various body parts, including this region. This, however, starts with small brown spots that later become patches. Apart from the spots, the skin may also get painful and itchy.

Natural remedies for brown patches and spots on the neck?

You shouldn’t get worried if you are having brown spots on the neck. There are many natural home remedies that can provide relief. Some of these remedies include:

  • Lemon Juice– Smearing this juice on your neck three times a day will make the spots to disappear.
  • You can use a mustard mask, especially if they are as a result of acne.
  • Apply tomato juice, especially at night. Cover it to work on your skin overnight.
  • You can also apply some honey on the same.