Search Encyclopedia:    
List of Topics Print This Page
 

Xanthoma


Definition:

Xanthoma is a skin condition in which certain fats build up under the surface of the skin.

Alternative Names:

Skin growths - fatty; Xanthelasma

Causes:

Xanthomas are common, especially among older adults and people with high blood lipids.

Xanthomas vary in size. Some are very small. Others are bigger than 3 inches in diameter. They appear anywhere on the body. But, they are most often seen on the elbows, joints, tendons, knees, hands, feet, or buttocks.

Xanthomas may be a sign of a medical condition that involves an increase in blood lipids. Such conditions include:

Xanthelasma palpebra is a common type of xanthoma that appears on the eyelids. It may occur without any underlying medical condition and may not be linked with a high cholesterol or lipid level.

Symptoms:

A xanthoma looks like a yellow to orange bump (papule) with defined borders. There may be several individual ones or they may form clusters.

Exams and Tests:

Your health care provider will examine the skin. Usually, a diagnosis can be made by looking at your skin. A biopsy of the growth will show a fatty deposit.

You may have blood tests done to check lipid levels, liver function, and for diabetes.

Treatment:

If you have a disease that causes increased blood lipids, treating the condition may help reduce the development of xanthomas.

If the growth bothers you, your doctor may remove it by surgery or with a laser, but xanthomas may come back after surgery.

Outlook (Prognosis):

The growth is non-cancerous and painless, but may be a sign of another medical condition.

When to Contact a Medical Professional:

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

Prevention:

Control of blood lipids, including triglycerides and cholesterol levels, may help reduce development of xanthomas.

References:

Habif TP. Cutaneous manifestations of internal disease. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2016:chap 26.

White LE, Horenstein MG, Shea CR. Xanthomas. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson I, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 248.


Review Date: 4/14/2015
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright 2002 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

   View History
  Xanthoma

   
   

 

About UPHS   Contact Us   Site Map   Privacy Statement   Legal Disclaimer   Terms of Use

The University of Pennsylvania Health System, Philadelphia, PA 1-800-789-PENN © 2016, The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania