Why Am I Yellow With Hepatitis C: Jaundice of the Skin
Last updated: July 2023
Perhaps you looked in the mirror and didn’t see rosy cheeks, but a mustard color instead. Maybe you looked at your hands recently and wondered about your skin. Maybe you’ve just been eating a lot of carrots. If not, and your skin seems a bit off color, you wonder: Why am I yellow with hepatitis C? Read on for some tips about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments.
How hepatitis C causes yellow skin
Bilirubin is a yellow pigment found in your body. It’s a byproduct of dead red blood cells. When everything is working okay, your liver will get rid of them. If your liver can’t filter very well, you’re stuck with too many. The yellow color can seep into every part of your body.
Look in the mirror. If your eyes are getting a yellowish hue, don’t be too alarmed. You’re not turning into a vampire. You’re just a little jaundiced.
Don’t forget to check your toilet too. You may notice that your urine is dark. Mine even turned organish red just before my liver failed. It was a big clue that I had hepatitis C and didn’t know it. Another clue is when your stool becomes white. It’s a simple way to know if you have a high bilirubin level.
If you have any of these signs, call your doctor. They will ask you to come in for a blood draw. It’s best if you haven’t eaten for a few hours before the test. One time I had just eaten and they drew anyway, so be sure and let your lab technician know the last time you ate. According to the National Library of Medicine, normal test result ranges are1:
- Normal direct bilirubin is 0 to 0.3 mg/dl
- Normal total bilirubin is 0.1 to 1.2 mg/dL
There is not really a cure for jaundice. That’s because jaundice by itself is not an illness. It’s a symptom of problems with your liver. So the real treatment is to get rid of the cause. If you have the hepatitis C virus, get treatment and get rid of it. Since it can be caused, or made worse by many things, your doctor may want to run tests other than just one for hepatitis C. You could have gallstones, anemia, or another infection in your body.
Some ways they might look for other factors to treat is blood tests. They might show some other complications going along with the jaundice. A complete blood count, or CBC, can look for signs of anemia. Liver function tests will show overall general liver health. An ultrasound, Cat scan, or MRI might also be done in severe cases.
Things to avoid
If you are living with jaundice while getting ready for treatment, or while treating, use caution. Avoid the use of acetaminophen. Don’t drink alcohol in any form. Do everything your doctor says so that you can complete treatment and get rid of the virus.
If you are living with the hepatitis C virus, you probably have inflammation in your liver. It just part of that whole virus cells multiplying in your liver kind of thing. If it has turned into jaundice, take special care of yourself. Get rid of what is causing it!