In most cases, yellowing on the bottom of your feet is nothing to worry about especially if that’s the only place you notice discoloration.
The cause is usually patches of thick hardened skin, also called calluses. These usually don’t need any medication.
But if you notice that the yellowing is accompanied by discoloration in other parts of your skin and other symptoms like fatigue, headache and fever, then there could be an underlying health condition and you should see your doctor for diagnosis.
Why Do Calluses Turn Feet Yellow?
If there’s repeated friction or pressure on a part of your foot – caused by wearing uncomfortable shoes or spending a lot of time on your feet – the skin on that area hardens into a callus.
The thick skin of a callus obscures the oxygenated blood that passes under your skin, giving it a healthy colour. This makes the skin appear yellow.
Can You Get Rid of Calluses?
Note that calluses are not a health concern. But they can be unsightly and make you feel unconfident about exposing your feet.
To deal with calluses, first figure out what’s causing them. Dealing with the root cause ensures they don’t occur again once you’ve gotten rid of them.
If it’s your shoes, wear comfortable, fitting shoes. This is especially important if you spend most of the day on your feet.
Calluses can also form if you don’t moisturise your feet. Apply moisturizing foot cream every evening before you go to bed.
The calluses will soften over time. By exfoliating your feet often with a pumice stone, the calluses will eventually go away.
If you want to get rid of the calluses sooner, you have two options. There are over the counter foot creams specifically for calluses.
You can also get a foot peel mask. Foot peel masks have drastic results and will usually get rid of most calluses.
You apply the mask, leave it on for an hour or two then take it off and rinse your feet. After 3-4 days, your feet will begin to peel. Over the next two weeks, all the dead skin on the bottom of your feet will peel off, leaving behind soft smooth skin without calluses.
Can Diet Turn Feet Yellow?
Another generally harmless cause of yellow feet is diet. Some fruits and vegetables are high in yellow pigments called carotenoids. The best known carotenoid is beta carotene found in carrots. Turmeric also contains carotenoids, mainly curcumin.
Eating large amounts of these foods can cause the skin to have a yellow hue. It’s easiest to see this yellowing on the bottom of your feet, but it can also occur on your palms and other parts of the skin.
If you suspect that your feet are yellow because of your diet, try cutting back on any foods that are high in carotenoids. The yellow tinge will go away.
In some cases, carotenemia (skin yellowing caused by carotenoids) can be caused by underlying health conditions.
Liver disease, kidney problems, diabetes, and high levels of cholesterol can affect the body’s ability to eliminate carotenoids through the usual ways (stool, urine and sweat), causing it to accumulate in the skin.
If you eat moderate amounts of carotenoid-containing foods and notice that your feet and palms are turning yellow, see a doctor for testing.
Which Underlying Health Conditions Can Cause Yellow Feet?
In addition to calluses and carotenemia, there are other more serious health issues that can turn the bottom of your feet yellow.
The most common is jaundice. You can usually tell if you have jaundice since other areas of your body will also turn yellow.
It usually starts with the whites of your eyes, your skin and eventually your extremities including your feet and hands.
If you see such symptoms, you’ll need to get a bilirubin test. From there, your doctor can diagnose what’s causing jaundice. In many causes, it’s a problem with the liver.
Other possible health conditions that can cause yellow feet include Raynaud’s and anaemia.
When To See a Doctor
So, when should you be worried about your yellow feet?
If that’s the only area you notice discoloration, and there are no other symptoms you are experiencing, then that’s either calluses or something in your diet.
You can easily tell if it’s calluses by touching the yellowed areas. They’ll feel thick, rough and hard. Exfoliate your feet often, moisturize them daily, and consider using a callus remover cream or foot peel to deal with the calluses.
Watch the video below to see what calluses look like on feet.
If you have no calluses, check your diet. It could be that you are eating too many carrots or turmeric. Try to reduce your intake of some of the veggies or fruits in your diet and see if you notice a reduction in the discolouration.
If you notice yellowing on other parts of your skin and body, plus some symptoms like fatigue or dizziness, definitely go to a doctor.
You’ll get a blood test to determine what compound in your blood is causing the yellowing. Further tests may be carried out to determine the underlying condition.