Have you ever noticed raised patches of skin with strong yellow undertones on your face, especially in the area around the inner corners of your eyes? This can be a critical sign, indicating that your cholesterol levels are extremely high and, in some cases, it can be an early indicator of primary biliary cirrhosis, a liver disease that causes a sharp spike in your cholesterol level.
The condition gets its name from the Greek word ‘Xanthos’, which means yellow. Xanthelasma refers to the yellow-looking plaques on your skin, which is essentially deposits of cholesterol or lipids under your skin. While the patches themselves are harmless, they will not shrink automatically without treatment and are also an early indicator of heart disease. (4)
These yellow, cholesterol-filled patches of raised skin are formed due to excessive levels of low-density lipoproteins (LDL or ‘bad’ cholesterol) in your system. This type of cholesterol is extremely bad for your heart and can cause problems like high blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke.
- Causes and Risk Factors of Xanthelasma
- Symptoms of Xanthelasma
- Preventing Xanthelasma
- Home Remedies for Xanthelasma
- Method 1: Garlic
- Method 2: Castor Oil
- Method 3: TCA Chemical Peel
- Method 4: Apple Cider Vinegar
- Method 5: Diet
- Tips to keep in mind
Causes and Risk Factors of Xanthelasma
More women than men are affected by this condition. People between the ages of 30 and 60 are also at higher risk. A genetic component, such as inherited high cholesterol or familial hypercholesterolemia, also increases your risk of developing this condition.
Other causes and risk factors include:
- High LDL or bad cholesterol levels
- High levels of triglycerides
- Low levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol)
- Primary biliary cirrhosis, which can raise your cholesterol levels drastically
- High blood pressure
- Poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle
Symptoms of Xanthelasma
The two primary symptoms are:
- Raised yellow-to-orange plaques on the skin.
- These plaques are flat on top, with sharp, well-defined edges.
- Balancing your LDL and HDL levels.
- Lowering the level of triglycerides in your bloodstream.
- Regulating your blood lipid levels, including fatty acids.
- Eating an organic and healthy diet.
- Leading an active lifestyle, and doing vigorous cardiovascular workouts to burn off fat.
Home Remedies for Xanthelasma
As mentioned above, xanthelasma is not a serious condition by itself, but it can be an early sign of health problems to come. The first and most important thing you have to do when you notice these yellow plaques on your skin is to make an appointment with your doctor and determine the exact cause of these cholesterol deposits.
You need diagnostic tests like a lipid profile blood test to find out your cholesterol levels. And while you are at it, you also should get your liver checked out.
As far as the related conditions are concerned, complications include increased chance of coronary artery disease, a heart attack, and liver failure. Meanwhile, if these plaques are left untreated and continue to grow, they can cause detrimental changes to your appearance. For example, untreated cholesterol deposits on your eyelids can have serious consequences for your eyes, like eyelid reversal.
Regarding the cosmetic aspect, you can go to your dermatologist to get these plaques removed. However, the process is likely to be long, tiring and extremely expensive. Additionally, many of the options like laser removal or cryosurgery can have side-effects and cause skin damage if not done properly.
You can use a natural approach to eliminate these skin patches. Here are five simple but effective home remedies to get rid of xanthelasma naturally.
Method 1: Garlic
Raw garlic contains sulfur compounds and natural enzymes that can successfully dissolve and disintegrate cholesterol deposits through both topical application and internal consumption.
Step 1. Extract fresh garlic juice
- Use a garlic press to crush 4 or 5 peeled garlic cloves and collect it in a bowl.
- Place the crushed garlic over cheesecloth and make a bundle.
- Twist and squeeze the bundle to extract the garlic juice.
Step 2. Apply garlic juice on the affected areas
- Saturate a cotton ball with the garlic juice.
- Apply it on the xanthelasma plaques. Be extra careful around your eyelids to prevent the juice from getting into your eyes.
- Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes. You may experience a slight stinging sensation.
- Wash it off with warm water. Keep your eyelids closed to prevent any residue from getting into your eyes while rinsing your face.
Do this once daily for at least 7 to 10 days to successfully dissolve these cholesterol deposits from under your skin.
To lower your cholesterol levels, you can also eat 2 to 3 cloves of fresh garlic every morning on an empty stomach and get rid of xanthelasma.
Method 2: Castor Oil
Cold-pressed, organic castor oil has anti-inflammatory properties and is rich in fatty acids that can help dissolve the solid cholesterol deposits underneath your skin. Regular application will give you smooth, younger-looking skin that is free of any yellowish lesions.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply castor oil and leave it on overnight
- Soak a cotton ball with organic, cold-pressed 100% castor oil.
- Apply it on the yellow xanthelasma patches and leave it on overnight.
- Wash it off in the morning with warm water.
- Do this daily at night before going to bed.
Use this natural treatment for at least 2 weeks to successfully get rid of these fatty cholesterol deposits and return your skin to normal.
Method 3: TCA Chemical Peel
You can also use a 70% trichloroacetic acid (TCA) peel to get rid of these fat deposits under your skin. Trichloroacetic acid is a chemical made by combining acetic acid, chlorine and a catalyst. (2)
This chemical peel removes dead skin cells and damaged outer skin layers to reveal the healthy, younger-looking skin underneath. This is a highly effective method to extract and get rid of xanthelasma plaques from your skin.
Single Step Treatment: Get a 70% trichloroacetic chemical peel
- Chemical peels using 70% trichloroacetic acid have proved to be highly successful in getting rid of xanthelasma plaques. This is a purely cosmetic treatment. To prevent them from recurring, you have to drastically change your diet and lifestyle.
- While several sites will tell you that you can perform this chemical peel at home, in reality, this is an extremely delicate procedure, especially since these yellow plaques often occur on your eyelids.
- Make an appointment with a dermatologist and get the chemical peel done by an expert.
You can get a chemical peel done once every 4 weeks to superficially treat xanthelasma.
While 70% trichloroacetic acid has proved to be the most effective for treatment, it is a strong dose and may not suit all skin types. If you have delicate or extra-sensitive skin, consult a dermatologist to determine the ideal concentration of TCA for your skin.
Method 4: Apple Cider Vinegar
Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar has strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It also contains acetic acid that helps break down and dissolve cholesterol and other fatty deposits in your bloodstream, liver and under your skin and also prevents acid reflux.
To lower your blood cholesterol levels and get rid of xanthelasma, you can also drink 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of warm water every morning.
Step 1. Dilute the raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with water
- Put 1 teaspoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a small bowl.
- Add 1 tablespoon of water.
- Mix well.
Step 2. Apply it on the affected skin patches
- Soak a cotton ball in the prepared solution.
- Apply it over the affected areas.
- Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes, then wash it off with lukewarm water.
- Repeat 2 to 3 times a day.
Do this daily for about 2 weeks to dissolve these fatty deposits under your skin and successfully get rid of xanthelasma.
Alternatively, you can soak 2 sterile cotton balls in the diluted apple cider vinegar solution and apply one over each eyelid, using a bandage to hold them securely in place. Keep them on for 2 hours with your eyes closed. Then, remove the bandages and rinse your eyes with lukewarm water. Do this once or twice a day for 2 weeks.
Method 5: Diet
When it comes to treating xanthelasma, your diet is of crucial importance in controlling your blood cholesterol levels and reducing the appearance of these yellow fat deposits. A 2018 also animal-based research also highlights the effect of high cholesterol diet and lipid metabolism in reference to xanthoma. (1)
Eating a healthy diet also reduces the risk of developing a severe heart condition or problem like high blood pressure in the future. Diligently following the broad guidelines given below will help you lead a long, healthy and xanthelasma-free life. (3)
Foods to avoid: You should avoid rich foods with high-fat content, such as:
- Red meat, fried foods and packaged foods containing artificial flavors and preservatives.
- Refined foods, especially sugar, pastries, refined flour, and pasta.
- Milk and other dairy products, including butter, cheese, full-fat yogurt, and cream.
- Junk food and fast food, including burgers, fries, chips, etc.
Foods to eat: A diet rich in organic fruits and vegetables is ideal for both getting rid of xanthelasma and leading a healthy, disease-free life. Include the following items in your regular diet to lower the level of harmful fats in your bloodstream:
- Whole grains, including brown rice, whole grain bread, etc.
- Oats with soy milk.
- Garlic, lemon, and onion.
- Blueberries, apples and black grapes.
- Drink 1 glass of tomato-carrot juice daily.
- Drink 2 cups of green tea daily. You can make it healthier by adding a lemon wedge.
Tips to keep in mind
- You can also mix 2 tablespoons of onion juice in a glass of water and drink it daily.
- You can also soak 2 teaspoons of fenugreek seeds in a glass of water overnight, and drink it first thing in the morning for 1 to 2 weeks. You can also apply the fenugreek water on your eyes to help dissolve the cholesterol deposits and get rid of xanthelasma.
- Drink at least 2 liters of water daily to detoxify your body and help get rid of xanthelasma plaques.
- Hu H, Gao Y, Tang J, Zhao Y, Wang H, Jiang H. Effect of a high-cholesterol diet on lipoprotein metabolism and xanthoma formation in rabbits. Journal of cosmetic dermatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29024285. Published October 2018.
- Mourad B, Elgarhy LH, Ellakkawy HA, Elmahdy N. Assessment of efficacy and tolerability of different concentrations of trichloroacetic acid vs. carbon dioxide laser in treatment of xanthelasma palpebrarum. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jocd.12148/abst Published August 7, 2015.
- Katsambas A, et al. European Handbook of Dermatological Treatments | Andreas Katsambas. Springer. https://www.springer.com/in/book/9783662451380. Published 2015.
- Laftah Z, Al-Niaimi F. Xanthelasma: An Update on Treatment Modalities. Journal of cutaneous and aesthetic surgery. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5921443/. Published 2018.