Xanthomas Overview

Treating Xanthomas

Because xanthomas are usually caused by high cholesterol, the best way to treat them it is to treat the high cholesterol. First, if your high cholesterol is a result of another disorder, like diabetes, you need to get this disorder under control [source: Lehrer]. Those without any of the disorders that cause high cholesterol should focus on lifestyle changes, beginning with diet. Foods containing trans or saturated fats tend to raise cholesterol levels in the body. This means you shouldn't overindulge in meat and dairy products, and you should avoid processed foods. Eating right isn't the only way to help prevent high cholesterol. Physical activity and weight loss is a big way to lower, or even prevent, high cholesterol. After all, a healthy, lean body functions much better than one stuck on the couch with a bag of chips. Finally, put that pack of cigarettes down, it helps lower your cholesterol and can make it a lot easier to catch your breath after a workout [source: WebMD].

Your doctor also might recommend medications to lower your lipid levels. While many of these medications have been proven successful, there has been little research about how their usage directly relates to decreasing xanthomas. Some xanthomas disappear within a few weeks after starting medication while others may take years or never resolve at all. Some xanthomas may even go away without any treatment [source: Fair].

If xanthomas do not disappear after treating high lipid levels, there are some topical or surgical procedures available. You should note, however, that xanthomas can reappear even after surgical removal [source: Lehrer, Fair]. Discuss the various options with your doctor to decide what is best for your condition and to how to become xanthoma-free.

Visit the links below for more information.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • American Diabetes Association. "Skin Complications." (Accessed 8/10/2009) http://www.diabetes.org/for-parents-and-kids/what-is-diabetes/skin-complications.jsp
  • Fair, Kevaghn P. "Xanthomas." eMedicine. November 25, 2008. (Accessed 8/9/2009) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1103971-overview
  • Lehrer, Michael S. "Medical Encyclopedia: Xanthoma." Medline Plus. April 16, 2007. (Accessed 8/9/2009)http://www.nlm.nih.gov/MEDLINEPLUS/ency/article/001447.htm
  • Healthline. "Surgical Procedures for Xanthoma." (Accessed 8/10/2009) http://www.healthline.com/treatments/xanthoma__#diagnostic
  • WebMD. "High Cholesterol - Cause." July 11, 2008. (Accessed 8/9/2009) http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/tc/high-cholesterol-cause
  • WebMD. "Understanding Cholesterol Problems - Symptoms." November 26, 2008. (Accessed 8/9/2009)http://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/understanding-cholesterol-problems-symptoms