xanthalesma yellow patches around the eyes

Understanding Xanthelasma: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

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Xanthelasma is a common skin condition that manifests as yellowish, flat, and slightly raised plaques on the eyelids. Although these plaques are typically harmless, they can cause cosmetic concerns for patients.

This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of xanthelasma, including its causes, symptoms, and available treatment options, to help individuals better understand and manage this condition.

Understanding Xanthelasma

Xanthelasma, also known as xanthelasma palpebrarum, is a benign skin condition characterized by the accumulation of cholesterol-rich deposits beneath the skin’s surface (see feature image above).

These deposits appear as yellowish patches or plaques, usually located on the inner corners of the upper and lower eyelids. While the condition is painless, it can be aesthetically bothersome for some individuals.

Causes of Xanthelasma

The exact cause of xanthelasma remains uncertain. However, several factors are believed to contribute to its development.

a) High cholesterol levels

Xanthelasma is commonly associated with elevated cholesterol levels, particularly low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Excessive LDL cholesterol can lead to the formation of cholesterol deposits in various parts of the body, including the eyelids.

b) Genetic predisposition

Family history and genetics play a significant role in the development of xanthelasma. If someone in your family has the condition, you may be more likely to develop it as well.

c) Metabolic disorders

Certain underlying metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, obesity, and hypothyroidism, have been linked to an increased risk of xanthelasma formation.

d) Liver dysfunction

Liver disorders, including primary biliary cirrhosis and hepatitis, can contribute to the development of xanthelasma due to impaired lipid metabolism.

Symptoms of Xanthelasma

The primary symptom of xanthelasma is the appearance of yellowish plaques on the eyelids. These plaques are usually soft and painless, ranging in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters.

While they are most commonly found on the inner corners of the eyelids, they can also extend to other areas of the eyelids.


A dermatologist or physician can typically diagnose xanthelasma by examining the affected area visually. In some cases, additional tests may be recommended to assess cholesterol levels and rule out any underlying metabolic disorders.

Treatment Options

a) Conservative management

If the xanthelasma plaques are small and do not cause significant cosmetic concerns, a “watch and wait” approach may be adopted. Regular monitoring of cholesterol levels and addressing any underlying metabolic conditions is essential.

b) Lifestyle modifications

Making certain lifestyle changes can help manage xanthelasma. These include adopting a healthy diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol, regular exercise, weight management, and smoking cessation.

c) Medications

In some cases, cholesterol-lowering medications, such as statins, may be prescribed by a healthcare professional to reduce cholesterol levels and prevent the progression of xanthelasma.

d) Surgical interventions

When xanthelasma plaques are large, persistent, or cosmetically problematic, surgical removal may be considered. Common techniques include excision, laser surgery, cryotherapy, or chemical peels. It is important to consult with a dermatologist or an ophthalmologist to determine the most appropriate approach for individual cases.


While it may not always be possible to prevent xanthelasma entirely, several measures can be taken to reduce the risk of its development. These include:

a) Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: Adopting a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and managing weight effectively can help keep cholesterol levels in check.

b) Regular health check-ups: Undergoing routine health check-ups can aid in identifying any underlying metabolic disorders and managing them promptly.

c) Quitting smoking: Smoking has been associated with increased cholesterol levels and various health problems. Quitting smoking can help reduce the risk of xanthelasma and other related conditions.


Xanthelasma, though benign, can cause cosmetic concerns for individuals affected by it. Understanding its causes, symptoms, and available treatment options is crucial for effective management. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, keeping cholesterol levels in check, and seeking appropriate medical advice, individuals with xanthelasma can take proactive steps towards minimizing the impact of this condition and maintaining overall well-being.

If you have concerns about xanthelasma or notice any unusual changes on your eyelids, it is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and guidance tailored to your specific needs.

Dr Vivek Baliga B
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