Xanthoma is a condition in which fatty deposits form beneath the skin. They can be more than three inches in size or very small. Xanthomas are not painful or dangerous, but can be cosmetically disfiguring. Xanthomas may appear anywhere on the body, but are most frequently found on the elbows, joints, tendons, knees, hands, feet, and buttocks.

Xanthelasma is a form of xanthoma that appears on the eyelids.

Xanthoma is typically caused by:

  • Elevated levels of fats in the blood
  • Metabolic disorders including:
    • Diabetes
    • Primary biliary cirrhosis
    • Some cancers
    • Inherited metabolic disorders like high levels of cholesterol in the blood

Although xanthelasma may be associated with high triglyceride and cholesterol levels, it can occur without cholesterol problems.