Condition 101 About Jaundice

What is the definition of Jaundice?

Jaundice is a yellow color of the skin, mucus membranes, or eyes. The yellow coloring comes from bilirubin, a byproduct of old red blood cells. Jaundice can be a symptom of several health problems.

What are the alternative names for Jaundice?

Conditions associated with jaundice; Yellow skin and eyes; Skin - yellow; Icterus; Eyes - yellow; Yellow jaundice

What are the causes for Jaundice?

A small number of red blood cells in your body die each day, and are replaced by new ones. The liver removes the old blood cells. This creates bilirubin. The liver helps break down bilirubin so that it can be removed by the body through the stool.

Jaundice can occur when too much bilirubin builds up in the body.

Jaundice can occur if:

  • Too many red blood cells are dying or breaking down and going to the liver.
  • The liver is overloaded or damaged.
  • The bilirubin from the liver is unable to properly move into the digestive tract.

Jaundice is often a sign of a problem with the liver, gallbladder, or pancreas. Things that can cause jaundice include:

  • Infections, most commonly viral
  • Use of certain drugs
  • Cancer of the liver, bile ducts or pancreas
  • Blood disorders, gallstones, birth defects and a number of other medical conditions

What are the symptoms for Jaundice?

Jaundice may appear suddenly or develop slowly over time. Symptoms of jaundice commonly include:

  • Yellow skin and the white part of the eyes (sclera) -- when jaundice is more severe, these areas may look brown
  • Yellow color inside the mouth
  • Dark or brown-colored urine
  • Pale or clay-colored stools
  • Itching (pruritis) usually occurs with jaundice

Note: If your skin is yellow and the whites of your eyes are not yellow, you may not have jaundice. Your skin can turn a yellow-to-orange color if you eat a lot of beta carotene, the orange pigment in carrots.

Other symptoms depend on the disorder causing the jaundice:

  • Cancers may produce no symptoms, or there may be fatigue, weight loss, or other symptoms.
  • Hepatitis may produce nausea, vomiting, fatigue, or other symptoms.

What are the current treatments for Jaundice?

Treatment depends on the cause of the jaundice.

When should I contact a medical professional for Jaundice?

Contact your provider if you develop jaundice.



Berk PD, Korenblat KM. Approach to the patient with jaundice or abnormal liver tests. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 147.

Fargo MV, Grogan SP, Saquil A. Evaluation of jaundice in adults. Am Fam Physician. 2017;95(3):164-168. PMID: 28145671

Lidofsky SD. Jaundice. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 21.

Taylor TA, Wheatley MA. Jaundice. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 25.

Latest Advances On Jaundice

  • Condition: Malignant Obstructive Jaundice
  • Journal: The Journal of international medical research
  • Treatment Used: Percutaneous Transhepatic Cholangiography Drainage and Percutaneous Transhepatic Insertion of Biliary Stents
  • Number of Patients: 82
  • Published —
The study compared the outcomes of percutaneous transhepatic cholangiography drainage and percutaneous transhepatic insertion of biliary stents for treating malignant obstructive jaundice.
  • Condition: Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Journal: BMC gastroenterology
  • Treatment Used: Endoscopic Biliary Drainage
  • Number of Patients: 107
  • Published —
In this study, researchers evaluated the safety and effectiveness of endoscopic biliary drainage for the treatment of patients with liver cancer and jaundice and liver dysfunction.

Clinical Trials For Jaundice

Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Participants: 350
  • Start Date: April 1, 2021
Early Detection of Advanced Liver Fibrosis in Patients With Excessive Alcohol Intake
Clinical Trial
  • Status: Not yet recruiting
  • Phase: N/A
  • Intervention Type: Device
  • Participants: 200
  • Start Date: April 2021
Can Transcutaneous Bilirubin (TcB) Measurements be Utilised to Assess Rebound Hyperbilirubinaemia Following Phototherapy in Neonates?