Q: Recently I noticed that the palms of both my hands have turned a yellowish-orange
color, like the color you'd get from a self-tanner. The only problem is
I'm not self-tanning. In fact, the only thing I'm doing differently
is eating salad for lunch instead of fast food so I can squeeze into last summer's
shorts. But shouldn't that make my skin rosier?
Dr. Donnica: Are you sure you're just eating more salad? One mistake
many dieters make is to eat lots of baby carrots as though they are "free
food." We like to snack on them because they're very tasty and healthy
and we assume that if a little is good, a lot is better. But not only do carrots
have a relatively high glycemic index, eating too many of them can cause the skin
condition you described. This is called carotenemia and refers to the increased
blood levels of carotene, the primary of Vitamin A.
The good news is that this condition is harmless and is not associated with
increased levels of vitamin A. While carrots are the main source, carotene is
found in all pigmented fruits and vegetables (especially squash, sweet potato,
pumpkin, spinach, beans, corn and yams). If your skin doesn't return to
its normal color within four weeks of a lower carotene diet, consult your physician.
While carotenemia is rare in other conditions, it has been found with hypothyroidism,
diabetes mellitus, anorexia nervosa, liver disease, and renal disease. There
is also a similar condition called lycopenemia, which causes an orange-red discoloration
of the skin. This is a result of excessive intake of tomatoes and beets.
Created: 4/8/2005  - Donnica Moore, M.D.