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Xanthoma

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Xanthoma is a skin problem characterized by development of irregular yellow nodules due to the deposition of fat in connective tissue cells. They are commonly associated with hyperlipidemia - either primary or secondary to diabetes, primary biliary cirrhosis, nephrotic syndrome. (Hyperlipidemia is an elevation of lipids in the bloodstream).

Xanthomas can appear anywhere in the body but it commonly appears in the elbows, joints, tendons, knee, hands, feet, buttocks. 
There are various type of xanthomas. The commonest one is called xanthelasma of the eyelids. Here it how it looks like:
The yellow nodules surrounding the eye is Xanthelasma. 
However there are other types as:

1. Tuberous xanthoma.
2. Tendon xanthoma.
3. Plane xanthoma.
4. Eruptive xanthoma.

So what investigations should be done if one has a xanthoma?
  •  Triglycerides, cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol should be measured. Lipoprotein profile can be done to assess the cardiac risk.
  •  Liver function tests and blood glucose level to check for the presence of diabetes.
  • Skin biopsy can be done for more histological studies.
The problem in xanthoma is more a cosmetic issue. However it indicates a serious change in blood cholesterol that needs attention.

Can we prevent xanthoma ?
Yes by controlling the blood lipids including triglycerides and cholesterol levels. Besides, good control of diabetes can prevent xanthoma.

If it occurs, what is its treatment ?
There are two lines of managment: a medical and a surgical one.
  • Concerning the medical care, diet control and lipid lowering agents will be of great value in lowering cholesterol levels in those who have hyperlipidemia. A normal cholesterol level will prevent occurence of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases.
  • Surgically, xanthomas can be treated by the use of trichloroacetic acid, electrodesiccation, laser therapy and excision. However recurrences can happen.
Thanks to Sheila who suggested this topic so that we can talk about it today.
Thank you for reading
 

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