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Diagnosing & Treating My Mysterious Skin Condition, Acanthosis Nigricans

Every couple of months, the internet erupts with revelations of how infrequently white people bathe themselves. Since then, many individuals have offered their thoughts on how hygiene is a racialised matter. After all, even though white people can get away with bathing “when necessary”, Black and Brown folk do not have this choice due to being historically perceived as “dirty”.

I mention this because when my neck and underarms began to darken at the age of 12, my guardians’ first plan of attack was teaching me how to clean myself better. When this did not work, they took me to the bath to try it for themselves. After a few failed attempts, they gave up, claiming that it was too late and that the dirt had “coloured my skin” to the point of no return.

Embarrassed and only young, I would wear high neck and long-sleeved shirts to hide the hyperpigmentation. When I was older, I would cake on foundation and concealer instead, and it wasn’t until the age of 25 I found out through my dermatologist I had acanthosis nigricans.