This patient information and photograph on xanthelasma is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Xanthelasma is a peculiar disorder of the skin. It can occur at any age, but it is more frequently seen in adults over the age of fifty. Typically it appears as yellow-orange plaques on the eyelids.
What causes it? Xanthelasma is caused by a buildup of fat droplets in certain skin cells. Why this occurs just in the eyelids is unknown. In a few rare cases there may be an abnormality in the blood fats, but this usually only occurs in people under fifty. In some cases I may need to check blood fat levels.
Is it dangerous? For the typical healthy person Xanthelasma is a harmless disorder, but it can be frustrating and cosmetically unacceptable. It is not related to cancer.
Can it be cured? Treatment can often improve Xanthelasma, but they may recur.
Will it spread? Xanthelasma stays localized to the eyelids.
Is it contagious? It is not contagious and you cannot "catch it" from anyone.