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  » Medical Topic Archive  »  Xanthoma



Xanthoma, eruptive - close-up
Xanthoma - close-up
Xanthoma - close-up
Xanthoma on the knee

Alternative names

Skin growths - fatty; Xanthelasma 


Xanthelasma and xanthoma are skin conditions where fat is deposited under the surface of the skin.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Xanthomas are common skin disorders, particularly among older adults and persons with elevated blood lipids (fat levels).

Xanthomas are deposits of fatty materials under the surface of the skin ranging in size from very small to more than 3 inches in diameter. They may be a symptom of metabolic disorders that are linked with an increase in blood lipids. Such conditions include diabetes , primary biliary cirrhosis , some types of cancer , and inherited metabolic disorders such as  familial hypercholesterolemia . They may appear anywhere on the body, most commonly on the elbows, joints, tendons, knees, hands, feet, or buttocks.

Xanthelasma palpebra is a common type of xanthoma that appears on the eyelids.


  • Skin lesion or bumps under the skin ( nodules )
    • Flat surface
    • Soft to the touch
    • Yellow color
    • Sharply defined margins (sharp, distinct borders)

Signs and tests

The diagnosis is primarily on how the skin growth looks, especially if there is a history of an underlying disorder. A biopsy of the growth will show a fatty deposit.


The goal of treatment is to control underlying disorders to reduce the development of xanthelasmas and xanthomas. The growths can be surgically removed if they become bothersome, but they may reappear.

1) Topical applications of 35 percent trichloroacetic acid solution may be effective. [6] Repeat applications (three to four times over several weeks) may be necessary for optimal results. 2) A combination of one or more HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors (for example pravastatin, lovastatin, simvastatin, fluvastatin, rivastatin or atorvastatin) with one or more insulin sensitizers (for example troglitazone, pioglitazone, englitazone, BRL-49653, 5-(4-{2-›1-(4-2'-pyridylphenyl)ethylideneaminooxy!-ethoxy}benzyl)thiazolid ine-2,4-dione, 5-{4-(5-methoxy-3-methylimidazo›5,4-b!pyridin-2-yl-methoxy)benzyl}thiazoli dine-2,4-dione or its hydrochloride, 5-›4-(6-methoxy-l-methylbenzimidazol-2-ylmethoxy)benzyl!thiazolidine-2,4-d ione, 5-›4-(l-methylbenzimidazol-2-ylmethoxy)benzyl!-thiazolidine-2,4-dione and 5-›4-(5-hydroxy-1,4,6,7-tetramethylbenzimidazol-2-ylmethoxy) benzyllthiazolidine-2,4-dione) exhibits a synergistic effect and is significantly better at preventing and/or treating arteriosclerosis and/or xanthoma than is either of the components of the combination alone.

Expectations (prognosis)

Xanthelasmas and xanthomas are painless and benign . They may indicate underlying disorders. They may be cosmetically disfiguring.


Psychological distress from cosmetic changes is the main complication.

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if xanthomas develop. They may indicate an underlying disorder that needs treatment.


Control of blood lipids, including triglycerides and cholesterol levels, may help to reduce development of xanthelasmas and xanthomas. Control of underlying disorders will help reduce development.

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