Yellowing of the skin

HCA UK's experts can help to diagnose and treat a range of conditions, including jaundice


Jaundice causes yellowing of your skin and of the whites of your eyes. It occurs as a result of a build-up of a yellow substance called bilirubin in your body, which is a by-product produced during the normal breakdown of old red blood cells.

Need to know

  • Symptoms of jaundice icon plus

    There are many different causes. Some affect the liver tissue, directly like alcoholic liver disease, and some that block the flow of bile from the liver, like cancer of the head of the pancreas.

    The most common symptoms of jaundice are:

    • yellow skin
    • yellowed whites of the eyes

    In some cases, you may also have itchy skin, darker urine and paler stools. 

    If you experience any of these symptoms, you should urgently arrange to see your GP or consultant who can assess your condition as they could be signs that your body isn’t functioning properly.


  • Diagnosis icon plus

    Your GP or consultant will discuss your symptoms with you and diagnose which type of jaundice you have based on what’s disrupting the normal removal of bilirubin from your body. Tests they recommend may include:

    • a urine test to measure levels of urobilinogen (a substance produced when bacteria inside the digestive system break down bilirubin)
    • a blood test (to test serum bilirubin levels and liver function)
    • an ultrasound, MRI or CT scan to detect abnormalities within the liver
    • biopsy of the liver to assess liver tissue
  • Potential treatment options icon plus

    Treatment options for jaundice depend on the extent of the condition, the underlying cause and your overall health and fitness. These may include medical treatments, stents or surgical operations.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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