6 Common Causes of Yellow Feet & Its Diagnosis

Feet bear a lot of pressure and friction that leads to the development of thick and discolored skin that can be yellow. Yellow feet are not a condition to worry about. It can sometimes be a sign of an underlying skin condition.

Common Causes of Yellow Feet

  1. High Dose of Turmeric

    Turmeric is a mild spice that has anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of curcumin. Curcumin is an active compound present in turmeric, which is bright yellow in color.

    A study showed high doses of turmeric root can lead to yellow discoloration of the soles.(1) In this study, women took 500 mg of turmeric root daily for 4 months, and after stopping these capsules the symptoms resolved.

  2. Carotenemia

    Carotenemia occurs due to excess carotenoids in the bloodstream.

    Carotenoids are the yellow pigments present in certain brightly colored vegetables and fruits. These are the substances that are a normal part of the healthy diet and are known to give the skin its natural color. Carotenoids leave the body through sweat, urine, and stool.

    Consuming more than 30 mg of carotenoid pigments daily can lead to a yellow tinge that most commonly affects the soles of feet and palm.(2)

    A build-up of carotenoids in the blood can make the skin yellow and this discoloration is mostly seen in the palms and soles.

  3. Calluses

    The callus is a thickened skin that is developed on the bottom of the feet. It is common on those areas of the feet that bear a lot of friction or where a lot of pressure is applied.

    Friction and pressure make the balls of feet and heels prone to calluses.

    Calluses are similar to the usual skin but are not as soft. The signs of callus include:

    • Dry skin with flakes
    • Hard and thick skin
    • Waxy look of the skin

    Calluses are not painful and demand treatment only if the appearance bothers. They can be gotten rid of with over-the-counter prescriptions and certain home remedies.

  4. Jaundice

    Jaundice makes the skin and whites of the eye look yellow. It happens due to an increase in the level of bilirubin that is the waste product of the breakdown of red blood cells. Bilirubin travels from the liver into the digestive tract and is eliminated as waste.

    If the body is not able to remove bilirubin properly, it gets built up in the bloodstream and leaks into the skin. This leads to yellow skin.

    There are several causes of jaundice including:

    • Liver diseases such as liver failure, cirrhosis or hepatitis
    • A few herbal supplements
    • Medication that leads to the destruction of red blood cells

    It is important to see the doctor if the symptoms of jaundice are experienced.

  5. Diet

    Eating excess carrots can lead to yellow skin. Pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, green vegetables, pepper, citrus fruits, and green vegetables are other foods that can lead to carotenemia.

    To notice these effects these foods should be eaten in large amounts. Yellow feet can occur on eating foods rich in carotenoids in large quantities.

  6. Other Causes of Yellow Feet:

    Other conditions that can lead to carotenemia i.e. by affecting the way carotenoids are processed and gotten rid of are. These conditions are:

    These conditions cause carotenoid build-up and start affecting the skin.

    Liver conditions can lead to jaundice and carotenemia, both of which look quite similar.

Diagnosis of Yellow Feet

If yellow discoloration is noticed, a podiatrist should be consulted, who is a specialist in curing foot conditions. He can be the best person to recognize callus and any other condition that may be causing discoloration.

Tests can be ordered by the doctor to diagnose the condition. The tests include:

  • Liver function test
  • Blood glucose test
  • Complete blood count
  • Beta carotene level test
  • Cholesterol test
  • Bilirubin test

Depending on the result of the above test, a CT scan can be done to determine the diagnosis.

Yellow skin can sometimes be a medical emergency as there can be a serious underlying condition. If someone experiences yellow skin and the below-mentioned symptoms, a doctor should be consulted immediately. These symptoms are:

  • Bloody vomit
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Bloody and tarry stool
  • Cognitive problem
  • Easy bruising or bleeding

Yellow feet cannot be an alarming condition unless associated with the above symptoms and it is best to consult a doctor if these symptoms are seen along.