is a condition in which fatty deposits form beneath the skin. They can be more than three inches in size or very small. Xanthomas are not painful or dangerous, but can be cosmetically disfiguring. Xanthomas may appear anywhere on the body, but are most frequently found on the elbows, joints, tendons, knees, hands, feet, and buttocks.
is a form of xanthoma that appears on the eyelids.
Xanthoma is typically caused by:
- Elevated levels of fats in the blood
Metabolic disorders including:
- Some cancers
- Inherited metabolic disorders like high levels of cholesterol in the blood
Although xanthelasma may be associated with high triglyceride and cholesterol levels, it can occur without cholesterol problems.
Factors that may increase your chance of developing xanthoma include:
- Having a metabolic disorder listed above
- Having extremely high cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels
- Increased age
The most common symptoms of xanthoma are:
- Bumps under the skin
Skin lesions that are:
- Many different shapes
- Yellow to orange
- Have well-defined borders
Xanthomas may be tender, itchy, and painful.
Xanthoma is usually diagnosed by examining the skin growths. A
of the tissue will confirm a fatty deposit.
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A blood lipid profile and other tests may be done to determine the underlying condition responsible for the appearance of xanthomas.
Treating xanthoma consists of treating and controlling the underlying health conditions that cause the fatty deposits to develop. Better control of the metabolic disorders that can lead to xanthoma can reduce their occurrence.
Xanthomas can recur after treatment.
Other treatment options for xanthomas include:
Surgery may be used to remove the fatty deposits. However, even after a xanthoma is surgically removed, it can return.
Laser surgery with CO2 laser, pulse-dye laser, or Erbium-YAG laser can be performed.
Treatment with trichloroacetic acid may also be used to treat xanthomas.
To help reduce your chances of getting xanthoma, take the following steps:
- Keep blood lipids and cholesterol at a healthy level
- Keep metabolic disorders well-controlled
Xanthoma. The University of Tennessee Medical Center website. Available at:
. Accessed August 2, 2013.
Feingold K, Castro G, et al. Cutaneous xanthoma in association with paraproteinemia in the absence of hyperlipidemia.
J Clin Invest. 1989 Mar;83(3):796-802.
Xanthoma. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
. Updated September 22, 2011. Accessed August 2, 2013.
Last reviewed August 2013 by Ross Zeltser, MD, FAAD; Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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