High Cholesterol Symptoms in Skin

Updated April 17, 2017

Indications of high cholesterol may appear on the skin in the form of discoloured growths. Varying in size from three inches to very small, Xanthelasma develops around the eyes. The condition is called Xanthoma when it appears on elbows, tendons, joints, hands, feet, knees and buttocks. Wherever it develops, it is cosmetically disfiguring. Xanthoma may also plague patients with physical discomfort. Causes of Xanthelasma and Xanthoma are not clearly understood, but when diagnosed, the bumps normally appear in patients with unsafe amounts of lipids in the system.


Appearing as yellow to orange bumps under the skin, some of these maladies form lesions with well-defined borders. Patients with Xanthoma may experience lesions that are itchy and painful.

Examination and a Biopsy

Unlike Xanthelasma, Xanthoma may require a biopsy of the tissue to confirm the fatty deposits are nothing more serious. Xanthelasma is easily identified by the doctor because of the location of the symptoms.

Controlling the Symptom

Controlling any further development of the fatty deposits causing Xanthelasma and Xanthoma means keeping cholesterol at ideal levels. Patients should work with their doctor to develop a healthier diet and exercise plan.

Removal Methods

Fatty deposits can be removed in several ways. Surgery is one option. Treating Xanthoma with trichloroacetic acid removes the unwanted growths. Using CO2, pulse-dye or Erbium-Yag laser provides patients with yet another choice for ridding the skin of the unsightly blotches. However, even after removing the fatty deposits, the condition can recur.

Reducing Chances of the Disorder

Reducing the chances of getting either Xanthoma or Xanthelasma in the first place requires keeping cholesterol blood lipids at healthy levels. Measured in milligrams (mg), cholesterol should be kept below 130. All metabolic disorders, including diabetes that affect cholesterol levels, need to be controlled. Diabetic and heart disease patients' goal is a cholesterol level less than 100 mg. Losing excess weight and reducing fat and cholesterol in the diet is another way to reduce your chances of developing Xanthoma or Xanthelasma.


Attempting to remove these growths with over-the-counter methods is dangerous. A licensed physician should always remove these bumps. Follow the doctor's instructions after removal. Keeping the area clean with soap and water and avoiding use of make-up and creams until completely healed assuages complication risks. Bleeding, swelling, redness and pain after removal are all warning signs to call the doctor.

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About the Author

Catalina Bixler's journalism career began in 1970. After five years as a publishing teacher, Bixler then published/edited NATO's U.S. 5th Army and 17th AF "Wiesbaden Post" newspaper. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in bilingual-journalism/community development from Redlands University, and a Master of Arts in adult education/training from the University of Phoenix.