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Is Yellow Skin Around Eyes Linked to Thyroid?

Jun 19, 2023 | Blog, Thyroid Health

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Understanding Yellow Skin Around Eyes: Is It Linked to Thyroid Conditions

Causes of Yellow Skin

YELLOW SKIN, particularly around the eyes, can be an indication that something is not functioning correctly within your body. Several factors might contribute to this change in skin pigmentation. Noticing any alterations in your skin color, including around the eyes, warrants an evaluation by a healthcare professional. Yellow skin could be the result of a VIRAL ILLNESS or a symptom of an underlying chronic condition such as Graves’ disease (AUTOIMMUNE HYPERTHYROID). In this article we will explore understanding yellow skin around eyes, asking: Is it linked to thyroid conditions.


Jaundice: The Primary Cause of Yellow Skin

JAUNDICE is often the reason behind yellow skin. This condition occurs when there is an ACCUMULATION OF BILIRUBIN, a yellowish-orange substance which is a byproduct of old red blood cells that need to be removed from the system. The LIVER plays a critical role in breaking down old red blood cells to be excreted. However, if there is an issue with the liver or an OBSTRUCTION OF THE GALLBLADDER, bilirubin can accumulate, leading to jaundice.


Symptoms of jaundice may include:

  • Yellowing of the skin
  • Yellowing or browning of the white part of the eyes (sclera)
  • Yellowing of the inside of the mouth
  • Darkening of urine
  • Itching


JAUNDICE IS RARE in adults, but several conditions may cause it, such as:

  • Hepatitis
  • ALCOHOL-related liver disease
  • Blocked BILE ducts
  • Pancreatic or gallbladder CANCER
  • AUTOIMMUNE disorders
  • Certain medications


Thyroid Conditions and Yellow Skin

Yellow skin around the eyes might indicate a serious underlying issue with the THYROID GLAND. The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located at the base of the neck. It regulates metabolism, growth, and development, primarily by producing thyroid hormones that instruct each cell on how to utilize energy.


Graves’ Disease and Yellow Skin

The most common thyroid condition associated with jaundice is Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the thyroid produces excessive thyroid hormones.

Yellow skin around the eyes could signify a THYROID STORM, a life-threatening situation characterized by dangerously high thyroid hormone levels.

Symptoms of a thyroid storm include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, delirium, severe weakness, irregular heartbeat, very low blood pressure, seizures, and coma.

If you have yellow skin around your eyes, seek immediate medical care, particularly if you have a thyroid condition.


Hypothyroidism and Yellow Skin

Although less likely than Graves’ disease, individuals with HYPOTHYROIDISM may also be at risk for jaundice. Hypothyroidism can increase the risk of gallbladder disease, leading to hyperbilirubinemia (another term for jaundice).


Diagnosing Jaundice

Doctors may perform several tests to diagnose jaundice, with a BILIRUBIN TEST being the first step. Other diagnostic tests may include:

  • Hepatitis panel
  • Liver function tests
  • Complete blood count
  • Prothrombin time
  • Cholesterol level
  • Abdominal ultrasound and CT scan


Liver biopsy

These tests can help diagnose jaundice and identify possible causes in abdominal organs such as the liver. In addition, your doctor will likely check other labs to rule out the cause of jaundice, including a thyroid function test. However, thyroid function tests may not always accurately reflect a person’s actual thyroid status in the presence of jaundice. The liver plays a vital role in thyroid hormone conversion, and an unhealthy liver can limit the conversion of T4 into T3. Elevated bilirubin levels can also increase thyroid-binding globulin (TBG) concentration, leading to a falsely elevated T4.

If your blood test shows no signs of jaundice, yellow skin could be due to a diet HIGH IN BETA CAROTENE, an orange pigment found in certain foods like carrots.


Treatment Options

If yellow skin around the eyes is due to a thyroid condition, early intervention and treatment can be effective. Jaundice is a sign of severe thyroid disease, so addressing the underlying thyroid issue is the top priority.

There are three primary treatment options for Graves’ disease:

  • Medication
  • Radioiodine therapy
  • Thyroid surgery

The choice of treatment depends on each individual’s unique needs, including factors such as age, pregnancy, and other medical conditions.

For jaundice related to hypothyroidism, the root cause is likely an issue with the GALLBLADDER. The first line of treatment for hypothyroidism is typically thyroid hormone replacement medication. This medication is necessary because people with hypothyroidism have low thyroid hormone levels. However, if there is a blockage or restriction in the bile duct or gallbladder, a specialist trained to treat gallbladder problems will need to address the issue.



If you notice yellow skin anywhere on your body, including around your eyes, seek medical care promptly. Jaundice is uncommon in adults unless there is an underlying medical problem causing bilirubin to accumulate in the body. Early diagnosis and treatment of thyroid conditions associated with jaundice are essential for managing the disease and preventing complications.

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional if you suspect that you have a thyroid condition or are experiencing symptoms such as yellow skin around the eyes. Proper diagnosis and treatment are crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being.