What is Peau D'Orange?

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  • Written By: J.L. Drede
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 08 November 2019
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Peau d'orange is a french term that literally means "the skin of an orange." It is often used in medical circles to describe skin that has become thick and pitted, just like that of an orange. There are many reasons why a person may develop peau d'orange. Some of the most common are inflammatory breast cancer, Grave's disease and Grönblad–Strandberg syndrome, which is also known as pseudoxanthoma elasticum or PXE.

For a person suffering from breast cancer, peau d'orange is often a late sign of the disease. The skin of the breast will thicken and pit slowly, usually with noticeable lumps and pain. This condition happens during breast cancer because the breast has swollen to the point where the hair follicles resemble dimples. The swelling is caused by lymphatic endema, water build up in the lymphoid tissue of the breast. Peau d'orange can occur in the breast and not be a sign of breast cancer. Grave's disease, which creates an overactive thyroid and an infection of the lymphatic system, can create similar symptoms.


Peau d'orange is also a symptom of pseudoxanthoma elasticum. This is a rare genetic disease characterized by the calcification and fragmentation of the elastic fibers of the skin, cardiovascular system and the retina. Sufferers of PXE see their skin begin to sag, much like a chicken neck. When their skin sags, the peau d'orange becomes apparent, and it turns rough and pitted. The condition first manifests itself on the neck and can spread to areas of the face. As the condition progresses the skin of the neck, as well as the groin, the skin will become soft and wrinkled, while maintaining its pitted appearance.

In addition to the skin problems, people with the condition also experience angioid streaks of the retina. These reddish/brown bands of color come from the calcification of Bruch's membrane in the retina. While the skin condition associated with PXE is relatively harmless aside from the cosmetic issues, angioid streaks can hemorrhage. These hemorrhages typically cause permanent loss of central vision, although the peripheral vision is never affected by the hemorrhages.

While peau d'orange may be the symptom of a more serious condition, it alone is not dangerous or harmful. Although the condition may cause discomfort or embarrassment it is not life-threatening on its own. Many times sufferers of PXE or other conditions that may cause peau d'orange may seek plastic surgery to help remove sagging skin, bumps and other aspects of the condition.


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Post 2

Can peau d'orange happen from inflammation or oedema (fluid retention)? My aunt recently had a car accident and injured her leg. There was inflammation which has gotten better, but there was minor oedema as well. We noticed after a few days that her skin in the area of the injury changed, it looks very uneven, as though something has developed underneath. It looks exactly as the description in this article.

Just wondering what we can do to make this better? She is already using some pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medicines. Perhaps, this appearance will go away once she is entirely better.

Do you have any recommendations, maybe some homemade treatments or ointments that might improve the skin condition?

Post 1

Peau d'orange is also used to talk about cellulite. Many European countries use this phrase or the translation of "orange peel" to refer to cellulite. When I was in Europe, I heard it on Paparazzi shows a lot. I guess celebrity cellulite makes news all across the world!

I think orange peel happens when fat and tissue separate. It makes the skin look like it has dimples or pits. It usually happens to many women after the age of thirty, but it doesn't have to be that way. I have it on my legs and I am not thirty yet. It's common in the legs and thighs as far as I know.

It's really not a big issue

in terms of health, but it looks bad and women want to avoid it for that reason. I think mine occurred because I suddenly stopped exercising after two years of extensive exercise. I think eating healthy and exercising regularly slowly makes it go away. I'm back to exercising, and my orange peels are less visible already.

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