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What causes yellow spots on skin?

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Quick Answer

Changes in skin color, including yellow, red or purple skin discoloration, can result from medications, hormone level changes, inflammation, infections and allergies, according to Healthgrades. A condition called jaundice can also cause the skin and eyes to look yellow.

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Full Answer

Skin color changes appear in patches or a consistent pattern, states Healthgrades. The skin may also have a lighter or darker shade than usual besides turning into a different tint. The skin gains its color from the melanocytes, which are cells that produce melanin. Individuals have varying skin colors, as the skin produces different amounts of melanin. Lighter skin has less melanin, whereas darker parts of the skin create more melanin.

Melanin production sometimes changes due to unusual hormone levels and medicine intake, says Healthgrades. An optical condition known as the Tyndall effect can also cause skin discoloration, as the brown pigment of melanin becomes a different hue once it reaches the deeper layers of the skin, states Healthgrades.

Various diseases, disorders and conditions, including organ failure and cancer, may change skin color slowly or suddenly, notes Healthgrades. Some conditions, such as a rash, lead to blotchy discoloration, whereas other diseases, such as jaundice, cause a uniform change throughout the body. In case of an allergic reaction, infection, cancer or other severe causes, it is important to see a medical professional immediately for a thorough examination.

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