What are Xanthelasma?
Xanthelasma is a disease of the skin. It is characterized by yellow plaques forming on the inner corners of the eyes or on any other part of the body. Clearly, the plaque and raised skin affect your cosmetic appearance, but besides that, it can also be a sign of certain sinister changes within your body.
Xanthelasma or xanthoma as they are most commonly known as commonly involves the upper eyelid. This specific involvement of the eyelids gives the disease its name, xanthelasma palpebrarum or Xanthelasma Palpebra, as some people know them. It is a common problem in the elderly and the obese, however, it’s surprising how little people actually know about the condition.
Here we describe what xanthelasma really is and how you can treat it;
The xanthelasma plaque is actually cholesterol that is deposited in the skin layers. It presents as a soft, semisolid or calcareous elevation on the skin with a distinct yellow hue. The disease itself is usually symmetrical, involving both sides of the body at the same time.
Xanthelasma palpebrarum, in severe cases, can involve all four lids at the same time. The term xanthelasma explains its meaning. It is derived from 2 Greek words, Xanthos meaning yellow and Elasma meaning beaten metal plate. You need to consider the fact that these plaques are temporary initially and can be reversed.
However, over prolonged periods of time, the plaques tend to coalesce together, increase in size and become permanent. What started off as a minuscule elevation on the skin, ends as a grossly visible deformity on your eye or other parts of the body.
So, what causes xanthelasma?
Xanthelasma palpebrum can occur in certain disease processes, but it usually occurs in obesity and the elderly. This is because high levels of blood lipids and cholesterol play a major part in the pathophysiology of xanthelasma. What happens is, the elevated levels of LDL, VLDL, IDL, and cholesterol circulates in the blood. Most of these lipids start to filter into the tissues where they invoke the macrophages to eat them.
Few lipids are fine, but when these white blood cells ingest large quantities of lipid, they transform into large, lipid accumulating, abnormal cells called foam cells. As the numbers of these cells increase in the skin, the external appearance of the skin transforms into an elevated plaque.
Depending on the duration of the plaque, it’s consistency changes. Initially, it is soft as the foam cells have not yet taken up permanent positions in the tissues. As the number of foam cells increases and the skin starts to develop fibrosis, the consistency of the xanthelasma plaque changes to semisolid.
At this point, the plaque is partly reversible by using lifestyle changes. However, as the time goes by, calcium starts depositing in the tissues and the plaque hardens. It now has a calcareous consistency and is difficult to remove. At this point, surgery may be the only choice.
A number of diseases can also result in these plaques. Especially diseases that modify the enzymes involved in lipid metabolism can result in lipidemia and then xanthelasma. Both primary and secondary hyperlipidemias are associated with xanthelasma plaques. Xanthelasma is very common in type 2 and type 4 hyperlipoproteinemia.
It is also common in certain conditions that involve a decrease in the level of good fats, HDL.Although xanthelasma, itself, does not have any morbidity or mortality, it does point to some other sinister changes. For instance, chronically elevated levels of lipids in the blood, which caused the cutaneous manifestations in the form of xanthelasma will also result in problems within the body.
The high levels of lipids in the blood can result in deposition of fat in the blood vessels, particularly of the heart. This can result in cardiovascular diseases which have high mortality and morbidity ratios. In addition to this, this fat can also affect the renal arteries and the arteries to the brain, resulting in hypertension, renal diseases, and strokes.
How to treat Xanthelasma And External Xanthomas?
So, how do you treat the condition?
The first step towards treating it is identifying that you have a problem. Once you are diagnosed with xanthelasma palpebrum, the first step you need to do is lower your blood lipid levels. For this, lifestyle changes are important. Here we introduce some ways that will help to lower your lipid levels and treat xanthelasma.
Hence, long-term management of xanthelasma involves modifying your diet and your lifestyle. Excessive fat is never good for your body and can lead to not only the cosmetic disfigurement due to xanthelasma palpebrarum but also sinister health problems like heart and kidney diseases. You need to consider the long-term effects of your actions. Xanthelasma palpebrarum is not very difficult to treat if you are willing to do so.
If you have any more questions about treating or removing Xanthelasma or Xanthoma, just contact us on the contact form below.
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