We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Orange Skin?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

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.

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 condition, although there may be a few days or weeks of aesthetic discomfort while the orange wears off.

Developing Orange Skin From Carrots 

Carrots are one of the main culprits of carotenemia. Carotenemia develops due to high levels of beta-carotene in the bloodstream. Beta-carotene is a plant pigment that, once consumed, assists the body in making vitamin A, an essential nutrient that promotes bone growth and healthy eyes and helps the body fight off infections. Beta-carotene is what gives carrots and other fruits and vegetables their orange, reddish or violet tint. Carrots are very rich in beta-carotene, so eating too many can cause carotenemia, which is visible through the skin.

Here are more foods rich in the pigment:

  • Mangoes
  • Oranges
  • Yams
  • Cantaloupe
  • Pumpkins

The condition only develops after eating large amounts of beta-carotene-rich fruits and vegetables for an extended period. To put it in perspective, one medium-size carrot has 4 milligrams of beta-carotene. For the tint to develop, you would need to consume 20 to 50 milligrams of the plant pigment daily for a few weeks. A situation where carotenemia can easily form is with a picky baby, only willing to eat carrots or sweet potatoes.

Fortunately, the condition is easy to treat, as all you need to do is drastically cut out eating beta-carotene-rich foods. The discoloration will eventually fade.

Orange Discoloration on Hands

The excess beta-carotene is carried in the bloodstream, and carotenemia develops once the pigment latches onto the skin. The pigment likes to latch on areas of thick skin. So, this means the orange discoloration often shows up on areas where we have the thickest skin, like the hands and palms.

If you have orange discoloration on your hands, but do not have a diet rich in beta-carotene, then consider the reasoning might be from an underlying medical condition. Some possible culprits are:

It is best to discuss your skin’s discoloration and any other possible symptoms with your healthcare provider, as they will run any necessary tests.

The Reasoning Behind Anorexia Skin Discoloration

Anorexia is a severe type of eating disorder in which people face a distorted perception of their body weight, leading to a dangerously low-calorie diet. People who suffer from the condition have an intense fear of gaining weight. As a result, they have a relentless desire to be thin, even at the cost of their mental and physical health.

Here are behaviors and symptoms associated with the disorder:

  • Extreme weight loss
  • Skipping meals
  • Avoid public eating
  • Compulsively exercise
  • Binging or purging
  • Dizziness and fainting
  • Hair loss
  • Skin discoloration

The skin discoloration associated with anorexia is also due to carotenemia. Anorexic people tend to have “safe” foods, meaning a go-to snack or meal. Here is where carrots or another beta-carotene-filled fruit or vegetable come into play. For example, carrots are a low-calorie vegetable that makes them appealing to someone suffering from this disorder. They are a quick snack and easy to eat in abundance, therefore, offering the possibility of developing carotenemia.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a The Health Board researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By popcorn — On Jun 16, 2011

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.

By animegal — On Jun 13, 2011

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.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
On this page
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.