Papaya is a sweet tropical fruit that makes a nutritious snack. The fruit is packed with the antioxidant vitamin C and high in fiber. It contains no saturated fat or cholesterol. Papaya is usually served as a raw fruit, but it may also be cooked, pickled or juiced. Consuming large amounts of papaya may cause a benign condition in which your skin turns yellow.
Beta-carotene is a type of carotenoid pigment that is found in yellow, orange and red plant-derived foods. It cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained from plant foods. Inside the body, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, an essential micronutrient that aids in growth, development and functioning of the vision system. Consuming large amounts of beta-carotene, through foods or supplements, may cause your skin to turn yellow-orange. This condition is called carotenodermia.
A 100-gram serving of raw papaya contains approximately 274 micrograms of beta-carotene. If you eat the whole fruit, you will be consuming approximately 2,140 micrograms or 2.14 milligrams of beta-carotene. There has not been sufficient evidence to support setting a recommended daily intake level of beta-carotene. However, many multivitamins include 3,000 micrograms or 3 milligrams of beta-carotene. Carotenodermia is usually observed when 30 milligrams or more of beta-carotene are consumed in a day.
The yellow skin discoloration caused by eating large amounts of beta-carotene-rich foods is not dangerous and does not require medical treatment. The skin will return to its normal color after beta-carotene consumption decreases. Your doctor may address your overall eating habits and discuss any concerns. A balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables will help you meet all your nutritional needs.
Other Possible Causes
A common cause of yellowing skin and eyes is jaundice. Caused by an accumulation of the pigment bilirubin, jaundice can be a sign of a serious underlying health condition such as liver disease, hemolytic anemia or viral hepatitis infection. Jaundice should always been treated by a doctor. Some prescription medications can also cause yellowing of the skin as a side effect. These include doxycyline for the treatment of various infections and quinacrine for giardiasis and lupus erythematosus. Contact your doctor if you experience skin color changes as a side effect of a new medication.
- Oregon State University: Beta-Carotene
- "International Journal of Dermatology", Carotenoderma – A Review of the Current Literature by Nitsan Maharshak MD, Johnatan Shapiro MD, Henri Trau MD
- Drugs.com: Quinacrine
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Papaya, Raw
- MedlinePlus: Jaundice