Pronounced: Zan-tha-las-ma; zan-tho-muh
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 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:
Although xanthelasma may be associated with high triglyceride and cholesterol levels, it can occur without cholesterol problems.
Factors that may increase your chance of xanthoma include:
Xanthoma may cause:
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.
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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 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 performed.
Treatment with trichloroacetic acid may also be used to treat xanthomas.
American Academy of Dermatology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Dermatology Association
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: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 22, 2011. Accessed August 27, 2014.
Xanthomas. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://www.dermnetnz.org/dermal-infiltrative/xanthoma.html. Updated May 18, 2014. Accessed August 27, 2014.
Last reviewed June 2014 by Fabienne Daguilh, 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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