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Xanthelasma and Xanthoma

  • Diana Kohnle
Publication Type:


Xanthelasma and Xanthoma


Fatty lumps under the skin are called xanthomas. They range from very small to up to 3 inches in size. Xanthomas may appear anywhere on the body. The most common places are the elbows, joints, tendons, knees, hands, feet, and buttocks. People who have them may not like how they look.

Fatty lumps on the eyelids are called xanthelasma.


Causes of xanthomas are:

Xanthelasma is linked to high fat levels in the blood. People can still have it without these problems.

Risk Factors

Xanthoma is more common in older adults. The chances of having xanthomas are higher for people who:

  • Have one of the metabolic problems listed above
  • Have very high cholesterol or triglyceride levels


Xanthomas may cause:

  • Bumps under the skin, which may be:
    • Tender
    • Itchy
    • Painful
  • Skin bumps that:
    • Are many different shapes
    • Are yellow to orange
    • Have clear edges to them


The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. The answers and a skin exam will help make the diagnosis. Other tests may be done such as:

  • A physical exam
  • A biopsy to learn more about the fatty lumps
  • Blood tests to check cholesterol levels and to look for other causes
Skin Biopsy.

Skin proceedurehttp://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=76537653si55551723.jpgsi55551723.jpgNULLjpgsi55551723.jpgNULL\\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\si55551723.jpgNULL10NULL2008-12-102573907653_202823Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.


The goal of treatment is to get rid of the xanthomas and xanthelasmas. Xanthomas may go away on their own. If they are caused by another health issue that will be treated. Treatment may include:

  • Diet changes to lower the amount of fat taken in
  • Medicines to help cholesterol and triglyceride levels

Options for removing xanthomas are:

  • Laser vaporization—different types of light can be used
  • Putting chemicals on the bumps
  • Surgery to cut them out

Xanthomas may come back after they have been removed.


People who have high cholesterol or other metabolic problems should follow their care plans to lower the chances of xanthomas.





  • Common benign skin lesions. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/common-benign-skin-lesions.
  • Hypertriglyceridemia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/condition/hypertriglyceridemia.
  • Xanthoma. DermNet NZ website. Available at: https://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/xanthoma.


  • Nicole S. Meregian, PA
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.