A xanthoma is a lesion that contains a collection of lipids, primarily occurring in the skin, eyes and tendons.
Xanthomas on the face are typically treated with minor surgical procedures. In some cases, better control of blood cholesterol levels can improve xanthomas.
In the skin it can appear as yellow/pink or yellow/orange flesh-colored bumps. When a xanthoma occurs in a tendon, it can appear as a large skin-colored or yellow/orange bump under the skin.
The cause of a xanthoma(s) depends on the type of xanthoma and the location on the body. A xanthoma can be a signal that the body is not processing lipids or fat properly and that there is an imbalance. This can be related to metabolic or thyroid disorders, or can sometimes be related to a genetic abnormality that leads to alterations in how lipids build up in the body. Xanthomas can also occur spontaneously with no underlying disorder in the body. This is usually true of the most common type of xanthoma, known as xanthelasma.
There are no topical medications to get rid of xanthomas occurring in the skin. If this condition is occurring due to an underlying lipid metabolism problem, medication to control hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia can be started.
Ablative lasers and electrosurgery (heat used to burn the lesion off) have been used. Treatment of existing lesions does not mean that new ones won’t appear in the future.
1. Brautbar A, Leary E, Rasmussen K, et al. Genetics of familial hypercholesterolemia. Curr Atheroscler Rep.2015;17(4):491; PMID: 25712136.