Xanthelasma and Xanthoma
Pronounced: Zan-tha-las-ma; zan-tho-muhEn Español (Spanish Version)
Xanthoma 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.
Xanthelasma is a form of xanthoma that appears on the eyelids.
Xanthoma is typically caused by:
A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.
The following factors increase your chance of developing xanthoma:
- Having a metabolic disorder listed above
- Having extremely high cholesterol and/or triglyceride levels
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
Xanthoma is usually diagnosed by examining the skin growths, but a biopsy 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 may be tender, itchy, and painful. 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 recur.
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.
American Academy of Dermatology
American Academy of Family Physicians
British Columbia Ministry of Health
Canadian Dermatology Association
Ellis K, Sprecher D. Hyperlipidemia. The Cleveland Clinic website. Published May 29, 2002. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/diseasemanagement/cardiology/hyperlipidemia/hyperlipidemia.htm. Accessed April 15, 2007.
Encyclopedia: xanthelasma and xanthoma. The University of Tennessee Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.utmedicalcenter.org/encyclopedia/?file=001447trt.htm. Accessed April 15, 2007.
Feingold K, Castro G, Ishikawa Y, Fielding P, Fielding C. Cutaneous xanthoma in association with paraproteinemia in the absence of hyperlipidemia. J Clin Invest. 1989 Mar;83(3):796-802.
Last reviewed April 2008 by Ross Zeltser, MD, FAAD
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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