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What are Eruptive Xanthomas & How Is It Treated? Causes, Symptoms and Prognosis of Eruptive Xanthomas

What Are Eruptive Xanthomas?

Eruptive Xanthomas refers to tiny lesions that are filled with lipids and fatty material that can appear at any part of the body.  They are generally yellow in color but can also be pink or brown.  They are also at times painful and extremely itchy.  Eruptive Xanthomas are completely benign in nature but are often an indicator of underlying conditions like high cholesterol and diabetes but it is not necessary that all people with Eruptive Xanthomas have the medical conditions mentioned[1, 2, 3].

Eruptive Xanthomas can appear at any age but are generally seen in people in their 20s or 30s who have certain predisposing medical conditions like familial hypercholesterolemia. Studies show that approximately 75% of people with familial hypercholesterolemia tend to have Eruptive Xanthomas.  There have been other studies done as well where a clear link has been established between Eruptive Xanthomas and systemic conditions like diabetes. Thus, researchers believe that presence of Eruptive Xanthomas is an indicator of a systemic illness [1, 2, 3].

What Are Eruptive Xanthomas?

What Causes Eruptive Xanthomas?

The primary cause of Eruptive Xanthomas is the presence of excessive lipid deposits on the skin.  This can happen as a result of abnormally high triglyceride levels in the body, a condition called hypertriglyceridemia. This condition is often caused due to obesity, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, chronic alcohol use, and hypothyroidism [3].

What are the Symptoms of Eruptive Xanthomas?

Eruptive Xanthomas in majority of the cases are asymptomatic. This means that aside from the skin lesions there is nothing that the patient experiences. At maximum, the lesions may at times itch or become slightly painful. The lesions seen with Eruptive Xanthomas are about 4 mm in diameter. The common areas where these lesions can be seen include the buttocks, shoulders, arms, and legs even though they may appear anywhere in the body [3].

How Are Eruptive Xanthomas Treated?

How Are Eruptive Xanthomas Treated?

The underlying cause of Eruptive Xanthomas determines its treatment. Once the cause is identified and addressed, these lesions tend to disappear and fade away. Eruptive Xanthomas are primarily treated with medications, lifestyle and dietary modifications.  Exercising and regular physical activity is advised for people with Eruptive Xanthomas.  The best diet for treatment of Eruptive Xanthomas includes vegetables, salads, fish, and oats [3].

It is recommended to limit consumption of saturated fats such as pizzas, red meat, coconut and palm oil. Additionally, limiting consumption of sugars, carbonated beverages, sweets are also beneficial. Keeping an eye on the weight especially in obese population is also beneficial for treatment of Eruptive Xanthomas [3].

In most cases, once the underlying condition is addressed, it takes a few weeks for the lesions to go away. However, if the person sees no improvement then medications may have to be prescribed including statins that decrease production of cholesterol and triglycerides in the body, fibrates, and Nicotinic which also decreases cholesterol and triglyceride production. If Eruptive Xanthomas do not resolve with these treatments then surgery may have to be done to remove the lesions [3].

What Is The Prognosis Of Eruptive Xanthomas?

Eruptive Xanthomas are benign lesions and are completely harmless. However, the underlying conditions that cause them may be potentially serious and require medical attention. If proper treatment is not given then there is every chance of developing a complication some of which can be serious including pancreatitis. If diabetes is believed to be the cause of Eruptive Xanthomas then it is most important to consult with a physician and start treatment for it as any delay in treatment of diabetes can be potentially life threatening for the individual [3].

In conclusion, Eruptive Xanthomas are benign harmless lesions that may develop at any part of the body. They are normally an indicator that the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the body are abnormally high. It is also an indicator of diabetes. The lesions seen are generally yellow in color but they can also be pink and brown.  They are usually about 2 mm in size [1, 2, 3].

Eruptive Xanthomas are in majority of the cases asymptomatic; however, some people complain of pain and itchiness at the affected site.  There is no specific treatment for Eruptive Xanthomas and once the underlying cause is identified and addressed the lesions fade away on their own [1, 2, 3].

Physicians may prescribe medications like statins and fibrate to lower the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.  Other than this, dietary and lifestyle modifications are quite effective when it comes to getting rid of Eruptive Xanthomas [1, 2, 3].


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:February 11, 2022

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