• Xanthelasma and Xanthoma


    Xanthoma is a condition in which fatty deposits form beneath the skin. They range from very small to up to 3 inches in size. Xanthomas 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.
    Xanthelasma 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:
      • Diabetes
      • Primary biliary cirrhosis
      • Inherited metabolic disorders like high levels of cholesterol in the blood
      • Some cancers
    Although xanthelasma may be associated with high triglyceride and cholesterol levels, it can occur without cholesterol problems.

    Risk Factors

    Xanthoma is more common in older adults. Factors that may increase your chance of xanthoma include:
    • Having a metabolic disorder listed above
    • Having extremely high cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels


    Xanthoma may cause:
    • 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 biopsy of the tissue will confirm a fatty deposit.
    Skin Biopsy
    Skin proceedure
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
    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 that are removed can return after treatment.
    Other treatment options for xanthomas include:


    Surgery may be used to remove the fatty deposits.


    Laser surgery with CO2 laser, pulse-dye laser, or Erbium-YAG laser can be done.


    Treatment with trichloroacetic acid may also be used to treat xanthomas.


    To help reduce the chances of xanthoma:
    • Keep blood lipids and cholesterol at a healthy level
    • Keep metabolic disorders well-controlled


    American Academy of Dermatology http://www.aad.org

    Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org


    Canadian Dermatology Association http://www.dermatology.ca

    HealthLinkBC http://www.healthlinkbc.ca


    Shapiro M. Rare Genetic Disorders Altering Lipoproteins. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. 2015 Jun 12.

    Xanthomas. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://www.dermnetnz.org/dermal-infiltrative/xanthoma.html. Updated November 8, 2014. Accessed May 16, 2016.

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