Orange peel-like pitting is a term for skin that looks dimpled or slightly puckered. It may also be called peau d’orange, which is French for “skin of an orange.” This type of pitting can happen anywhere on your skin.
There are many potential causes of orange peel-like pitting on your skin. Some are harmless, but others can be more serious. For example, it can be a sign of breast cancer when it’s on your breast.
If you have orange peel-like pitting on your breast, you should have it checked by a doctor.
As you age, your skin gets loses elasticity. This means it gets less firm and may start to sag. Your pores will look bigger, which can lead to orange peel-like pitting on your face.
Your pore size is determined by genetics, so you can’t actually make them smaller. But you can restore some elasticity to your skin and make your pores appear smaller.
Keratosis pilaris is a skin condition that looks like goosebumps or small pimples. It usually occurs on the upper arms or front of thighs. Children may get it on their cheek.
The bumps that characterize keratosis pilaris are plugs of dead skin cells. They’re harmless, but may feel itchy or dry. Treating dry skin can treat the bumps and make them less noticeable.
Cellulite is dimpled flesh that’s mostly occurs on the thighs, hips, and buttocks. It’s more common for women, especially as they age. The cause is unknown.
Cellulite is very common and harmless. Treatment isn’t necessary, and most treatments aren’t effective.
Lymphedema is swelling in the arm or leg. It usually only happens in one arm or one leg. It’s caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system, typically due to the removal or damage of lymph nodes during cancer treatment.
Other symptoms of lymphedema are:
- swelling of part or all of your arm or leg
- aching or discomfort
- hardened or thickened skin
- heavy or tight feeling
- decreased range of motion
There’s no cure for lymphedema, but it can be treated both at home and by a doctor. If you have limb swelling, you should see a doctor, especially if you’ve had cancer treatment.
Skin infections can cause orange peel-like pitting. They are usually caused by bacteria coming in through the skin barrier. Cellulitis is the most common skin infection. It typically affects the legs.
Other symptoms of skin infections are:
Orange peel-like pitting on your breasts can be a sign of inflammatory breast cancer. if you have this symptom, see a doctor as soon as possible. Inflammatory breast cancer can be difficult to diagnosis, so consulting a doctor early is crucial.
Other symptoms of inflammatory breast cancer are:
- breast swelling
- breast redness or bruising
- inverted nipple
- breast heaviness
Treating orange peel skin caused by aging, skin conditions, and cellulite
Some causes of orange peel-like pitting, such as aging, cellulite, and keratosis pilaris, can be treated at home. Here are some of the potential treatments for these conditions:
- Retinol may have some effect on cellulite and can make pores look smaller by encouraging healthy cells to grow.
- Glycolic acid removes dead skin cells.
- Vitamin C helps reduce signs of aging, can protect against future damage, and helps moisturize skin.
- Sunscreen helps reduce signs of aging on your skin.
- Facial peels use a chemical to exfoliate and peel off skin to reveal smoother skin underneath.
- Microdermabrasion is an exfoliation treatment that can make your complexion smoother and brighter.
- Ultrasonic cavitation can reduce the appearance of cellulite and large pores.
- Dermal filler or Botox injections may reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles and can help fill in pitting.
- Exfoliation reduces the appearance of keratosis pilaris.
Treating breast cancer, infection
Some conditions that cause orange peel pitting always need medical attention and treatment from a doctor. They include:
Inflammatory breast cancer
The standard of care for inflammatory breast cancer is chemotherapy to kill cancer cells, followed by surgery to remove the tumor, and radiation. Chemotherapy may also be given after surgery.
In certain conditions, other treatments can be used. If the tumor contains hormone receptors, hormone therapy can be given. An anti-HER2 therapy like Herceptin can also be used. These treatments may be given before or after surgery.
There’s no cure for lymphedema, but its symptoms can be treated. Common treatments include:
- exercises to help drain lymphatic fluid
- leg wrapping to encourage the lymphatic fluid to move back into your body
- lymphatic massage
- compression garments
A doctor can help you find the right treatment for you, as well as teach you exercises and the best way to wrap your leg.
Infection treatment depends on the underlying infection cause. However, oral antibiotics are the most common treatment.
Orange peel-like pitting can be a sign of a serious problem, such as inflammatory breast cancer or an infection. You should see a doctor if:
- the pitting is on your breasts
- you also have a sudden increase in breast size
- there is a large amount of swelling around the pitting
- you have symptoms of an infection, such as fever, chills, and fatigue
- you have previously had cancer treatment
If the pitting on your skin bothers you, you can see a doctor. It may not indicate a serious problem, but early diagnosis of all conditions can help ensure treatment is effective.
Orange peel-like pitting on your skin has many possible causes. While some, such as cellulite, are harmless, others are serious.
If you have this type of pitting, especially on your breast, see a doctor to get an accurate diagnosis.