Xanthelasma: Those White Spots Around the Eyes

Xantelasmas aren't just problematic for being ugly white spots—they are a sign of high cholesterol that could lead to cardiovascular complications.
White Spots

It’s possible that you’ve never even heard of xanthelasma. They’re small white spots that appear around the eyes that, little by little, if left untreated become very unsightly benign tumors.

These small accumulations of fat appear around the area of the eyelid, the tear ducts, or around the eye socket. When patients discover these white spots, they’re usually very surprised.

Many people attribute them to aging, the damaging effects of the sun, or in the case of women, just little blemishes that can be covered up with makeup.

But the little spots will eventually grow into bumps. In some cases they even become very large and you have to resort to surgery.

Today we’ll explain what causes them and what you should do if you notice some of these white spots around your eyes.

Xanthelasma and cholesterol

We’ve already given you the first clue: cholesterol. These small benign tumors serve as organic depositories for cholesterol esters.

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This is a direct and striking response that tells you something is wrong with your body.

These white spots can also appear in other areas. Many people notice them on their knees, hands, or feet.

In those cases, they are known as xanthomas.

We’ll provide more information below.


Are xanthelasmas dangerous?

Xanthelasmas are benign lesions that are almost always caused by high cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.

  • A xanthelasma by itself is not severe or even related to a certain type of skin tumor.
  • But if it is the direct symptom of high cholesterol, then yes – it becomes a serious condition.
  • That’s why it’s necessary – vital even – that you go to the doctor for a checkup and treatment to follow a diet that will lower your cholesterol.
  • Therefore, while xanthelasmas aren’t “fatal,” the cause for their appearance is actually quite dangerous.
  • If a xanthelasma has already formed it means that your risk of heart disease has increased significantly.

Xanthelasmas can appear on one eye or both. These yellowish or white spots are found in the upper layers of the skin and don’t affect the movement or vision of the eye itself.

They can also be caused by other skin diseases

Dermatologists tell us that these spots or bumps around the eyes aren’t always 100% linked to high cholesterol. There is a small probability that you’re suffering from what is known as xanthogranulomatosis.

  • This is a disease in which the dermis layer accumulates fat. It’s common for these patients to present with several firm, fatty nodules just under the skin, both around the eyes and on the legs.
  • It should be said, however, that xanthogranulomatosis is a fairly rare disease.

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How is xanthelasma treated?

First of all, as we noted above, you need to go to the doctor and identify what’s causing the xanthelasmas.

Because cholesterol is typically what is behind this skin abnormality, the most important thing is to follow the proper treatment.

Then you can try to resolve the appearance. Don’t forget that xanthelasmas alter the way your face looks and are very unattractive.


There are many forms of treatment and your dermatologist will be able to tell you what your best option may be.


This is the most common treatment, considering the striking size some of these fatty deposits can reach. But don’t forget that surgery too may leave its mark.

The skin of your eyelids or under the eyes is very delicate, and can sometimes leave scars.

Trichloroacetic acid peels and CO2 laser

This technique reduces the probability of scarring. The only thing it will leave is lighter colored skin due to the small burns it causes.

Nd-YAG laser

This is another alternative to surgery that uses a laser to minimize or eliminate the lesions.

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A local anesthetic is applied and your recovery time is rapid. In the most serious cases, however, small skin grafts are often needed to repair the area around the eyes.


Surgery or laser treatment is not the solution to the problem: you need to be more aware

To conclude, we’ll once again repeat that xanthelasmas are benign tumors that disappear with the appropriate intervention. You need to care for your health and blood cholesterol levels, however.

According to various studies, when a person begins to see xanthelasmas you can expect a heart problem to also appear in the short or medium term.

It’s important to remember!