Navigate Up

Seniors Center - A-Z Index

#
Q
Y
Z

Print This Page

Xanthoma

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 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, a common type of xanthoma that appears on the eyelids and may occur without any underlying medical condition, is not necessarily associated with elevated cholesterol or lipids.

Symptoms

A xanthoma looks like a yellow to orange bump (papule) with defined borders.

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider will examine the skin. Usually, a diagnosis of xanthoma 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. 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. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Mosby; 2009:chap 26.

Massengale WT, Hodari KF, Boh EE, Nesbitt LT Jr. Xanthomas. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 92.

Updated: 5/15/2013

Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com