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Orange skin: causes orange skin discoloration (carotenemia)

  1. Carotenemia is a harmless orange discoloration of the skin, especially the hands and face. Carrots are good for the gastrointestinal tract and eyesight, but if you eat large amounts of carrots every day, you can be shocked when you look in the mirror, as the beta-carotene in carrots causes a yellow to orange skin discoloration. The orange-colored roots contain a lot of beta-carotene, a provitamin A that is converted by the body into vitamin A. Carotene is a natural coloring agent and the excess is deposited in the body in the fat tissue, liver or even in the skin cells. The latter can even become visible with excessive use: then the skin turns yellow-brown or even slightly orange. This change in the skin is called carotenemia. Usually, an orange discoloration appears around the nose or on the feet and palms.

Orange skin due to carotenoids

  1. What are carotenoids? Carotenoids are natural dyes that produce yellowish to reddish hues in many plants. These bioactive substances belong to the carotenoids. It is found in green vegetables, fruits and microalgae. But these natural plant ingredients can do even more: when you get them through food, they are converted in the body into vitamin A and they also serve as effective antioxidants. These scavenge free radicals, or aggressive substances that in unfavorable cases can cause damage to cells and tissues. Carotenoids are therefore important helpers against cancer, cataracts and other diseases. Conversely, ill health or acute illness lowers the carotenoid levels in blood and tissues. People with a parasitic infection, malaria or HIV

Causes of an orange skin discoloration

  1. The cause of orange skin is an increased intake of beta-carotene (30 mg per day or more), which is caused by the increased consumption of certain types of vegetables (for example carrots, carrot juice or tomatoes) . Carotinaemia has nothing to do with an increased intake or an excess of vitamin A

Types of carotenemia

  1. Primary carotenemia

Who gets carotenemia?

  1. Carotenemia can occur at any age, but is most common in young children who are given large amounts of (store-bought) baby food. These foods often include carrots, pumpkin, spinach and sweet potato, all of which are high in carotene. Carotenemia is also relatively common in vegetarians, vegans and vegetarians

Examination and diagnosis

  1. Interview and physical examination Carotenemia is characterized by a yellow or orange color of the skin. The doctor will ask about the foods you are eating to find out if there is an excessive intake of carotene in the diet. In addition, elevated beta-carotene levels in the blood can be seen in blood tests


  1. If you ensure that you eat (much) less than 30 milligrams of carotene every day, you will not develop (primary) carotenemia. Eating carotene for one or a few days is harmless, as you need to consume substantial amounts over a three-week period to get orange skin.

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