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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1];Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Kiran Singh, M.D. [2]


Carotenodermia (also carotenaemia, carotenemia or hypercarotenemia) is a yellowish/orange discoloration of the skin, most often occurring in the palms of the hands and soles of the feet as a result of high levels of carotene in the body. It is most commonly found in vegetarians. It is also very typically seen in infants and small children, and in their case the discoloration is most visible in the skin on their nose. This symptom, also known as xanthosis cutis, is reversible and harmless.[1] Carotenodermia has been observed to occur upon chronic doses in excess of 30 mg of carotenoid per day, most often caused by eating an overabundance of carrots. Though all pigmented fruits and vegetables contain some amount of carotene, especially large amounts of it are in breast milk, carrots, squash, sweet potato, pumpkin, spinach, beans, egg yolks, corn and yams.


Other than yellowish discoloration, carotenodermia has no significant symptoms or toxicity. Note that this is not true of Vitamin A, which the liver can interconvert with carotene.


Carotenodermia is most commonly associated with over consumption of food containing carotene, but it can be a medical sign of other conditions, including:

Infants and small children are especially prone to carotenodermia because of the cooked, mashed, and pureed vegetables that they eat. Processing and homogenizing causes carotene to become more available for absorption. A small 2.5 ounce jar of baby food sweet potatoes or carrots contains about 400-500% of an infant's recommended daily value of carotene. In addition to that source of carotene, infants are usually prescribed a liquid vitamin supplement, such as Tri-Vi-Sol, which contains vitamin A.


Physical Examination




Carotenaemia is in itself harmless and does not require treatment. By discontinuing the use of high quantities of carotene the skin color will return to normal. It may take up to several months, however, for this to happen. Infants with this condition should not be taken off prescribed vitamin supplements unless advised to do so by the child's pediatrician.

As to possible underlying disorders, treatment depends wholly on the cause.

Containing carotene

Many fruits and vegetables contain carotene, most notably carrots.

Similar conditions

Excessive consumption of lycopene, a plant pigment similar to carotene and present in tomatoes, can cause a deep orange discoloration of the skin. Like carotenodermia,lycopenodermia is harmless.

Excessive consumption of elemental silver, silver dust or silver compounds can cause the skin to be colored blue or bluish-grey. This condition is called argyria.


  1. Simon, P.W. (2004). "Carrot Facts". United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved 2007-07-01.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 "Dermatology Atlas".

External links

  • One woman's experiment to find out whether her skin would turn orange if she ate a diet of mostly carrots for thirty days.