Chris Schach

Author Bio -

Key Points
*Skin condition due to excessive intake of carotene
*Can also be attributed to other conditions in which carotene is not properly metabolized
*Consists of skin becoming discolored, varying between yellow and orange

Carotenemia is a skin condition caused by excessive intake of carotene from various vegetables and citrus fruits which contain it. It consists of the yellowing of the skin, especially in areas where skin is thick, or areas of subcutaneous fat. It does not affect the eyes, mouth or nostrils. The condition may persist for up to several months after treatment due to the accumulation of carotene.

Carotenemia is most often seen in children, who consume large amounts of mashed or pureed vegetables, which cause the carotene in food to be more readily absorbed. The condition is also seen in vegetarians who consume excessive amounts of vegetables containing carotene. Carotenemia is more likely to appear in persons affected with conditions which affect metabolism, such as liver disease, hypothyroidism, and diabetes. Very rarely, a gene defect can adversely affect the body's ability to metabolize carotene, causing Carotenemia without excessive intake.

Differential Diagnosis (Other conditions with similar appearance)

Key Points
*Diagnosis based on skin appearance
*Blood testing performed to confirm diagnosis and rule out similar appearing conditions or more serious underlying conditions

Diagnosis is generally based on the appearance of symptoms, and confirmed with blood testing to determine if carotene levels are elevated, and to rule out similar appearing conditions. Liver or other testing may be performed if an associated disease is suspected.

*Treated by modifying diet to reduce carotene intake
*Goal of treatment is to alleviate symptoms

The only treatment for Carotenemia is to eliminate dietary intake. In cases where an underlying condition is responsible, treatment of that condition may help to alleviate symptoms. Symptoms may persist for up to several months, as carotene has accumulated in the system and must be eliminated before symptoms alleviate.