What is the definition of Xanthoma?

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

What are the alternative names for Xanthoma?

Skin growths - fatty; Xanthelasma

What are the causes for Xanthoma?

Xanthomas are common, especially among older adults and people with high blood lipids (fats). Xanthomas vary in size. Some are very small. Others are bigger than 3 inches (7.5 centimeters) in diameter. They may 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:

  • Certain cancers
  • Diabetes
  • High blood cholesterol levels
  • Inherited metabolic disorders, such as familial hypercholesterolemia
  • Scarring of the liver due to blocked bile ducts (primary biliary cirrhosis)
  • Inflammation and swelling of the pancreas (pancreatitis)
  • Underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism)

Xanthelasma palpebra is a common type of xanthoma that appears on the eyelids. It usually occurs without any underlying medical condition.

What are the symptoms for Xanthoma?

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

What are the current treatments for Xanthoma?

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 provider may remove it by surgery or with a laser. However, xanthomas may come back after surgery.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Xanthoma?

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

When should I contact a medical professional for Xanthoma?

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

How do I prevent Xanthoma?

To reduce the development of xanthomas, you may need to control your blood triglyceride and cholesterol levels.

Xanthoma, eruptive - close-up
Xanthoma - close-up
Xanthoma - close-up
Xanthoma on the knee


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; 2016:chap 26.

Massengale WT. Xanthomas. In: Bolognia JL, Schaffer JV, Cerroni L, eds. Dermatology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 92.

White LE, Horenstein MG, Shea CR. Xanthomas. In: Lebwohl MG, Heymann WR, Berth-Jones J, Coulson IH, eds. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 256.

  • Condition: Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (HoFH)
  • Journal: Atherosclerosis
  • Treatment Used: Intensive Lipid-Lowering Therapy
  • Number of Patients: 2
  • Published —
This study determined the effect of intensive lipid lowering therapy in adolescent patients with homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HoFH).