Yellow Skin


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By Medicover Hospitals / 12 Jan 2021
Home | symptoms | yellow-skin
  • Yellow skin is most commonly caused by a condition called jaundice, which occurs when there is a high level of bilirubin in the blood. Bilirubin is a yellowish compound that forms when old or damaged red blood cells break down. Bilirubin build-up is known as hyperbilirubinemia and causes yellowing of the skin, the whites of the eyes, and mucous membranes.
  • Article Context:

    1. What is yellow skin (jaundice)?
    2. Causes
    3. Diagnosis
    4. Treatment
    5. When to visit a Doctor?
    6. Home Remedies
    7. FAQ's

    What is yellow skin (jaundice)?

  • "Jaundice "is a medical term describing the yellowing of the eyes and skin. Jaundice is not a disease itself, but it is a sign of some possible underlying diseases. Jaundice occurs when the system absorbs too much bilirubin. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment that creates by the breakdown of dead red blood cells in the liver. Normally, along with existing red blood cells, the liver eliminates bilirubin.
  • Jaundice can show a serious problem with the function of the red blood cells, liver, gallbladder, or pancreas.
  • Types:

  • There are three main types of jaundice:
    • Hepatocellular jaundice occurs because of infection or damage to the liver.
    • Hemolytic jaundice occurs because of hemolysis or an accelerated breakdown of red blood cells, leading to an increase in bilirubin production.
  • Because of an obstruction of the bile duct, obstructive jaundice occurs. This stops leaving the liver with bilirubin.
  • Causes:

  • Jaundice can be caused by a problem in any of the three phases of bilirubin production.
  • Before bilirubin production, you may have what is called unconjugated jaundice due to increased bilirubin levels caused by:
    • Resorption of a large hematoma (a collection of clotted or partially clotted blood under the skin)
    • Hemolytic anemias (blood cells are destroyed and removed from the bloodstream before their normal lifespan is over)
  • During bilirubin production, jaundice can be caused by:
    • Viruses, including hepatitis A, chronic hepatitis B and C, and Epstein-Barr virus infection (infectious mononucleosis)
    • Alcohol
    • Autoimmune disorders
    • Rare genetic metabolic defects
  • Medicines, including the toxicity of acetaminophen, penicillins, oral contraception, Thorazine (chlorpromazine), and estrogenic or anabolic steroids.
  • After bilirubin is produced, jaundice can be caused by an obstruction (blockage) of the bile ducts by:
    • Gallstones
    • Inflammation of the gallbladder
    • Gallbladder cancer
    • Pancreatic tumor

    Risk Factors:

  • Acute inflammation of the liver: This can affect the liver's ability to conjugate and secrete bilirubin, resulting in accumulation.
    • Inflammation of the bile duct: This can prevent the secretion of bile and the elimination of bilirubin, which causes jaundice.
    • Bile duct obstruction: This prevents the liver from removing bilirubin.
    • Hemolytic anemia: Bilirubin production increases when large amounts of red blood cells are broken down.
    • Gilbert's syndrome: This is an inherited condition that affects the ability of enzymes to process the excretion of bile.
    • Cholestasis: This interrupts the liver's bile flow. Bile that contains conjugated bilirubin remains in the liver rather than being excreted.


  • To detect jaundice and verify bilirubin levels, doctors will most likely use the medical records of the patient and a physical test. They will pay close attention to the abdomen, palpate the tumors, and check the firmness of the liver.
  • Cirrhosis or scarring of the liver suggests a firm liver. A rock-hard liver suggests cancer.
  • Several tests can confirm jaundice. The first is a liver function test to determine whether the liver is working properly or not.
  • If a doctor cannot find the cause, a doctor may recommend blood tests to check bilirubin levels and the composition of the blood. These include:
    • Bilirubin tests: A high level of unconjugated bilirubin compared to levels of conjugated bilirubin suggests hemolytic jaundice.
    • Complete blood count (CBC) or complete blood count (CBC): Measures the levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  • Hepatitis A, B, and C tests: tests for a variety of liver infections.
  • The doctor will examine the structure of the liver if he suspects an obstruction. In these cases, they will use imaging tests, including MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds.
  • They may also perform endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). This is a procedure that combines endoscopy and x-rays.
  • A liver biopsy can detect inflammation, cirrhosis, cancer, and fatty liver. To generate a tissue sample, this test requires sticking a needle into the liver. Under a microscope, the sample is then tested.
  • Treatment:

  • Again, jaundice itself is a symptom of many potential underlying conditions, not a disorder. The type of medication prescribed for jaundice by your healthcare provider depends on the cause. Your healthcare provider, not the symptom itself, will treat the cause of jaundice. Your yellow skin will probably revert to its natural state until therapy starts.
  • Treatment of jaundice focuses on the cause rather than the symptoms of jaundice.
  • The following treatments are used:
    • Anemia-induced jaundice can be treated by increasing the amount of iron in the blood, either by taking iron supplements or by eating more iron-rich foods.
    • Hepatitis-induced jaundice requires antiviral or steroid medications.
    • Doctors can treat obstruction-induced jaundice by surgically removing the obstruction.
    • So if the use of a drug has induced jaundice, treatments involve changing to an alternative drug.
    • If alcoholic beverages cause liver disease, stopping drinking will be crucial in resolving jaundice.
    • Gallstones that cause jaundice may require treatment, which is usually the removal of the gallbladder.
    • Liver cancer will require specialist treatment and may include radiation and chemotherapy, and other supportive therapy medications.
    • Cirrhosis is the end stage of chronic liver disease and has many causes. Treatment for cirrhosis jaundice will depend on the type of liver disease present but may include the use of corticosteroids or diuretics.

    When to visit a Doctor?

  • The main reason to see a doctor about jaundice is not the condition itself, but the cause. Jaundice in adults may be an indicator of a significant health concern. Possible causes include:
    • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
    • Bile duct obstruction
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Congenital disorders
    • Malaria
    • Cirrhosis
  • The cause of jaundice can be identified by a gastroenterologist and suitable treatment options are prescribed. Ignoring the problem will only allow the cause to get worse and could lead to serious symptoms or even death.
  • Home Remedies:

  • Sugarcane helps the proper functioning of the liver and digestion. A glass of sugarcane juice will help the patient to recover quickly from jaundice.
  • Tomatoes have lycopene which reduces the risk of liver disease. To treat jaundice, a glass of tomato juice blended with salt and pepper can be used every morning.
  • In the case of jaundice, radish leaves should be used. It would be helpful to drink a glass of the distilled juice every day.
  • Make a paste from papaya leaves and add honey. One should eat this regularly for about two weeks.
  • Spinach, as we all know, has an excess of iron; spinach juice would also be beneficial. Some chopped spinach leaves along with carrots will be an effective home remedy.
  • They do not contain fat and are therefore good for digestion. Adding a pinch of salt, black pepper, and cumin seeds would relieve the patient of the disease.
  • Goat milk is rich in many vital nutrients that are beneficial for both adults and babies. The presence of antibodies in it helps to treat jaundice.
  • The allicin in garlic exhibits strong antioxidant properties. This can help detoxify the liver, speeding recovery from jaundice.
  • Amla is high in nutrients such as vitamin C and many others. It is a powerful antioxidant and can be used to treat jaundice.
  • Prevention:

  • Jaundice is related to liver function. It is essential that people maintain the health of this vital organ through a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and not consuming more than the recommended amounts of alcohol.
  • Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Jaundice is when it turns yellow on your skin and the whites of your eyes. It can be a sign of something serious, such as liver disease, so you need to seek urgent medical help.
  • Jaundice accompanied by fever or abdominal pain can be a sign of a life-threatening problem.
  • If your body doesn't get enough oxygen, you may feel more tired and lethargic. It can also affect your skin by making it pale or yellow in color.
  • Most cases of infection clear up on their own after a few weeks, but in rare cases, the infection can cause liver failure.
  • Citations:

  • Wiley Online Library -
  • Science Direct -
  • JAMA Network -