Eruptive Xanthomas: Importance of Recognition to Reduce Delay of Effective Triglyceride Reduction

Am J Med. 2022 Apr;135(4):444-447. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2021.09.026. Epub 2021 Oct 31.


Eruptive xanthomas are localized lipid deposits in the dermis and an important early clue to severe hypertriglyceridemia. These small erythematous or yellow papules that localize to the extensor surfaces of extremities, buttocks, and the back are often overlooked during routine visits secondary to poor familiarity and limited skin examinations. We present 3 cases of patients with eruptive xanthomas and severe hypertriglyceridemia who underwent skin biopsy and waited weeks to years before receiving effective treatment. We suggest the following to minimize the delay between presentation and effective management. First, perform a comprehensive skin examination. Second, be mindful of the association between metabolic syndrome or diabetes with severe hypertriglyceridemia. Third, evaluate the Four D's of secondary hypertriglyceridemia: Diet/Lifestyle, Drugs/Medications, and Diseases/Disorders of metabolism. Finally, initiate effective treatment promptly after recognition. This includes beginning with a minimal fat diet and appropriate pharmacological intervention to control triglycerides as outlined in recent guidelines.

Keywords: Eruptive xanthoma; Hypertriglyceridemia; Lipid abnormality; Metabolic syndrome; Pancreatitis; Preventative medicine.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus*
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias* / complications
  • Hypertriglyceridemia* / complications
  • Hypertriglyceridemia* / diagnosis
  • Skin / pathology
  • Triglycerides
  • Xanthomatosis* / complications
  • Xanthomatosis* / etiology


  • Triglycerides