What Are the Most Common Causes of Orange Skin?

People who eat large quantities of fruits and vegetables high in carotene may briefly have orange-tinted skin.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 15 August 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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The most common causes of orange skin are carotenemia, a usually benign condition where people ingest too much beta carotene and their bodies cannot clear it quickly enough, and jaundice, a symptom of liver dysfunction. Skin discolorations can also develop in association with tanning and with some chronic diseases including liver and kidney dysfunction. If a patient develops orange skin, the doctor can perform an evaluation to determine the cause and recommend a treatment.

In people with carotenemia, too much carotene is ingested, a result of eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables like carrots. This is not necessarily harmful for the patient, but can result in an alarming skin color. Babies commonly develop this condition, as do vegetarians. People can adjust their diets to give their bodies more time to clear the carotene and their skin should clear up. Very high doses of carotene are also sometimes used in the treatment of medical conditions, and patients on these doses will develop carotenemia.

People with anorexia nervosa, liver or kidney disease, diabetes, and hypothyroid conditions can also sometimes develop carotenemia, even if they aren't eating unusually large numbers of colorful vegetables. In these patients, the body is less able to metabolize the carotene, and orange skin can appear on a relatively normal diet. While the discoloration is not harmful, it is an indicator of an underlying issue in need of treatment or better management.

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Jaundice can also cause orange skin. People can differentiate between jaundice, a sign of a serious problem with the liver, and carotenemia by the presence of orange to yellow discoloration in the eyes. Patients with jaundice will develop a yellowish tint in their eyes as a result of the deposition of bilirubin, a pigment the liver cannot adequately clear when it is diseased. Jaundice can appear in people of all ages and requires treatment.

Finally, tanning sometimes causes orange skin. Self-tanning products infamously have a tendency to turn the skin orange, and it is advisable to do a test patch with the product before applying it to the whole body to see how it interacts with the underlying skin color. Spending a lot of time in a tanning booth can also cause an orangish discoloration, depending on what kinds of lotions and creams the patient is using. Generally, changing tanning products is enough to resolve the orange skin, although there may be a few days or weeks of aesthetic discomfort while the orange wears off.

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Discuss this Article

popcorn
Post 2

Does anyone know how long it takes for carotenemia to wear off once you stop eating products with lots of carotene in it?

I have stopped eating carrots and sweet potatoes, but think the orange tint to my skin may stick around awhile, but I am really not sure.

animegal
Post 1

If you have purchased tanning cream and are traumatized due to the now orange color of your skin it is possible to get rid of it before you have to make an unsightly public appearance.

If you have just done the tan, using some makeup remover may help you remove the tanner so that your orange skin goes back to normal.

If this doesn’t work you may have to move on to a few harsher chemicals, especially on your hands and feet. As these areas tend to collect more tanning lotion.

If you have hydrogen peroxide around your house, use this on a cotton ball to wipe away the orange. Always test a small patch of skin first though, as it can be irritating to some people.

Finally you can give body hair bleach a try. This is the kind you use to bleach hair on your upper lip. Put it on the skin for 10 minutes then rinse it off.

Good luck, and you may have to try these treatments more than once. Orange can be very stubborn on your skin.

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