What are eruptive xanthomas?

What are eruptive xanthomas?

Small lesions and bumps that occur on the skin are eruptive xanthomas. They may be yellow, pink, brown, or skin-colored and may be itchy and uncomfortable at times. They can be a symptom of an underlying disorder, such as diabetes, though eruptive xanthomas are not harmful.

We address eruptive xanthomas in more depth in this article, including their causes , symptoms, and therapy. We look at their connection to diabetes as well.

What are eruptive xanthomas?

eruptive xanthomas

Eruptive xanthomas are benign lesions containing lipid, or fatty acid, deposits that occur on the skin.

They are rare and, alongside other factors, can occur. As a result, they may be an early warning sign of another disorder, such as diabetes, that affects metabolism.


As a result of lipid deposits in the skin, eruptive xanthomas take place.

They may develop because of hypertriglyceridemia, a form of lipid in the blood that refers to high serum triglyceride levels.

Some conditions that may also cause high serum triglyceride levels, likely contributing to eruptive xanthoma, include the following:


Eruptive xanthomas are frequently asymptomatic, according to a 2018 study, which indicates that individuals experience no symptoms aside from the presence of the lesions. However, a person can feel itchiness and, in some cases, pain if symptoms are present.

The lesions appear as tiny shiny bumps, generally 1-4 millimeters in size.

On the buttocks, neck, arms , and legs, eruptive xanthomas normally occur. Individuals can, however, note bumps and lesions across the body, including on the face and inside the mouth.


A doctor must identify and treat the underlying disorder that causes eruptive xanthomas in order to treat them.

When a person receives medication for the underlying disorder, the symptoms and presence of xanthomas should reduce or go away entirely.

As well as treatment, it can help to treat eruptive xanthomas with safe dietary changes and increased physical activity.

Dietary and exercise changes

DermNet notes that individuals can find that the symptoms of eruptive xanthomas are minimized by changing their diet.

People may benefit from:

  • ensuring that a large part of their diet consists of vegetables, salads, cereals, and fish
  • reducing their consumption of saturated fats, such as meat , dairy products, and coconut and palm oil
  • reducing their consumption of sugars present in fizzy drinks, sweets, biscuits, and cake

People who are overweight or obese can also find that it helps to alleviate symptoms by slowly decreasing their calorie intake and increasing their physical activity.

Medical treatment

Eruptive xanthomas, with the above changes, often go away by themselves within a few weeks. However, a doctor can prescribe several different medications if they do not, including the following:

MedicationHow it works
StatinsThese drugs reduce cholesterol production in the liver.

They also mildly reduce triglycerides.
FibratesDoctors may prescribe fibrates alongside statins.

They reduce triglyceride production in the liver.
Ezetimibe (Zetia)This drug may be more suitable for people at high risk of complications.

It reduces the amount of cholesterol in the gut.
Nicotinic acidNicotinic acid reduces cholesterol and triglycerides.

Surgery could be an option if the xanthoma does not resolve spontaneously or after treatment of the underlying condition.

Diabetes and eruptive xanthomas

Diabetes is a long-term condition affecting the body’s insulin production or function.

A 2018 report notes that individuals with untreated type 2 diabetes undergo a decline in the activity of lipoprotein lipase, which plays a significant role in breaking down blood fats. They will also experience an increase in serum triglycerides, or fat.

If the serum triglyceride levels are high enough, eruptive xanthoma can be caused by lipids.

Those with diabetes, therefore, have a greater risk of developing eruptive xanthomas.

While eruptive xanthomas are more common in individuals with type 2 diabetes, those with type 1 diabetes can also be affected.

According to an article in the British Journal of Diabetes, if a person with eruptive xanthoma has diabetes, once the person has control of their blood sugar levels, a doctor does not prescribe statins or fibrates.

It is important to remember that diabetes is not present in anyone who experiences eruptive xanthomas. It may, however, be an indicator that a person has developed diabetes if eruptive xanthomas occur.


A series of tests can be conducted by a doctor to diagnose eruptive xanthoma. A skin biopsy can be done, which includes taking a small sample of an eruptive xanthoma and sending it to a testing lab.

Blood and urine samples, as well as X-rays, can also be ordered by physicians to see if they can detect any underlying disorders that may trigger eruptive xanthoma.

It is crucial that physicians order these tests, because if a person does not receive treatment, many underlying conditions may cause significant harm.

Complications and Outlook

The skin lesions themselves are harmless, and they can be resolved within a few weeks of appearing without medical intervention. However, because of possible complications, they indicate an underlying problem that a person should treat.

One such complication is a higher chance of developing pancreatitis due to the increase of serum triglycerides.

A disease that induces intense abdominal pain that can lead to nausea and vomiting is pancreatitis.

If diabetes causes eruptive xanthoma to occur, a person should see a doctor. The person may experience complications due to diabetes without the proper treatment. It can also be fatal to have untreated diabetes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) says that in the United States, diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death.

When to see a doctor

If they find the presence of lesions resembling eruptive xanthomas, people should see a doctor.

They suggest that a person has hypertriglyceridemia, although the lesions are harmless, and may be a warning sign of another long-term disease, such as diabetes.

A doctor will be able to test for any underlying problems and diagnose them and carry out a treatment plan that will better manage and monitor the condition.


Eruptive xanthomas are tiny lesions that appear in the body as a result of the deposition of fatty acids into the skin. Some individuals may experience itchiness and discomfort, but most people are not affected by these symptoms.

Eruptive xanthomas will resolve when a person receives treatment for the underlying cause.

Due to the increased in levels of serum triglycerides, there are ties between this condition and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. To treat an eruptive xanthoma, doctors will diagnose and treat the underlying disorder.

Eruptive xanthoma can also be treated with dietary modifications and medications. People should consult with their doctor about any dietary changes and the use of medicine.

If a person has diabetes and eruptive xanthoma, statins or fibrates will not be recommended by a doctor until the diabetes is controlled.