You’ll usually find xanthelasma on one or both upper eyelids, around the inner corner of the eye and closer down by the nose. You may also find them growing on one or both lower eyelids. You can also recognise xanthelasma by some of the following characteristics:
- They can be flat or raised patches or bumps.
- They are yellow to orange in colour.
- They have well-defined edges.
- They don’t tend to be painful or itchy.
- Once they appear, they won’t go away without treatment.
- They tend to stay the same size or get bigger over time and can multiply.
- They can merge together to form larger lumps.
If you have any new growths, especially around the eyes, it’s always important to speak to your doctor so they can make a proper diagnosis and give you the correct treatment.
Your doctor will be able to diagnose xanthelasma by physically examining the growths around your eye. They may also check the lipid levels in your blood or do other tests to check for any potential underlying health issues.
For some people, xanthelasma can be an early sign of heart disease. It can be a sign that cholesterol is building up in your blood vessels. This can cause a hard, sticky substance called plaque to form in your arteries which will eventually block blood flow. This could cause heart disease, a heart attack or a stroke.¹
Many people believe that xanthelasma around the eyes and on the eyelid is caused by genetic high cholesterol problems. Around half of the people who have xanthelasma have elevated cholesterol levels and half have normal cholesterol levels.³
In any case, managing your cholesterol levels through diet and lifestyle changes can have a positive effect on xanthelasma. Some effective lifestyle changes are:
- Exercising daily: Aim for 30 minutes a few times a week.
- Quit smoking and limit your alcohol intake: It’s best to stop smoking and drinking entirely if you can, otherwise try to moderate.
- Adjust your diet: Limit the amount of saturated fats you eat. These are typically found in butter, fried and fatty foods.
Your doctor can support you to help find the right ways to manage your cholesterol. They may also prescribe you cholesterol medication or recommend any alternative treatments.
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