As a parent, you'll treat a number of fevers and upset tummies in your children but most parents are uncertain what to do when their child’s hands and feet turn a peculiar shade of yellow. In general, discolored palms in children are typically nothing to worry about. In a few cases, yellow discoloration may point to liver problems, making yellow hands and feet four good reasons to visit the doctor.
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In an effort to raise a healthy child, it is natural to encourage a diet rich in vegetables. When children takes a special interest in carrots, squash and sweet potatoes, most parents don't discourage them from getting as many of these beneficial vegetables as possible. These vegetables are full of beta-carotene and too much beta-carotene in your child’s diet can cause the skin to turn yellow. Frequently this discoloration is first seen in the hands and feet because beta-carotene is excreted through sebaceous glands according to the University Of Chicago Pritzker School Of Medicine. Other foods that might cause carotenemia in your toddler include pumpkin, eggs, yams, breast milk, corn, spinach and beans. Carotenemia is a harmless condition, easily reversed by dietary changes.
Similar to carotenemia, lycopenemia discolors the skin when your child eats high amounts of lycopene-rich foods. High amounts of lycopene appear in tomatoes, watermelon, ketchup, pink grapefruit, guava and apricots. Fortunately, lycopene is harmless, and avoiding lycopene-rich foods, for a period of time, will reverse the skin discoloration.
If your toddler’s yellow skin appears to be spreading, or you notice other flu-like symptoms, diet may not be the culprit. Some infectious diseases, like hepatitis A and mononucleosis, affect the liver and cause jaundice. Your child may be at an increased risk of contracting these diseases if she attends daycare, due to increased exposure. If you notice that your child is running a fever, is extremely tired, is complaining of stomach pain or has diarrhea, visit the doctor immediately to receive the right course of treatment.
Sickle Cell Anemia
Occasionally, a yellowing of the hands and feet is the result of jaundice caused by sickle cell anemia, a genetic disorder. In the United States, every state requires that every newborn be tested for sickle cell anemia, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. Therefore, it is unlikely that your child would have sickle cell without you knowing. Iif your child has sickle cell anemia and develops yellow hands and feet, talk to your child’s pediatrician to ensure there are no complications.
- "The Journal of Nutrition"; Are there Adverse Effects of Lycopene Exposure?; Paula R. Trumbo; August 2005
- National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse; What I need to know about Hepatitis A; April 2009
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute; What Is Sickle Cell Anemia?; February 2011
- Medline Plus: Lycopene
- University of Maryland Medical Center; Mononucleosis - Symptom; D. Scott Smith et al.