Have you noticed yellow bumps around your eyes and you don’t know what they are?
Learn what causes cholesterol deposits around the eyes, how to recognize them, and how to treat them with natural remedies.
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Cholesterol is a type of lipid made by our bodies. It is important for hormone and vitamin production, fat metabolism, and maintaining cell walls. Cholesterol production is promoted by diets high in saturated fats, other lifestyle factors, and genetics.
Cholesterol can leave your bloodstream and enter the surrounding tissues if your cholesterol levels are too high. This causes cholesterol to accumulate and trigger local inflammatory responses.
Immune cells called macrophages eat this cholesterol. They turn it into foam cells, gluing the cholesterol in the tissue. This often occurs near the eyelids, but it can happen anywhere.
Xanthelasma palpebrarum is the medical term for cholesterol deposits near the eyelids. The deposits appear as asymmetrical yellow bumps, often at the center and in the corners of the upper and lower eyelids.¹ You may get one to begin with, but notice several over time.
These cholesterol deposits are benign, and most people will only get treated for cosmetic purposes.¹
Over 50% of people with xanthelasma palpebrarum have it because of high levels of circulating cholesterol.² Genetics, medical conditions, and lifestyle factors can cause this.
Common medical conditions linked to xanthelasma palpebrarum include dyslipidemia (high lipid levels), diabetes, and thyroid issues.
Diabetes dyslipidemia is characterized by chronically high blood glucose levels. This often occurs because glucose cannot enter the cells and stays in the bloodstream. Elevated LDL cholesterol levels (also known as “bad” cholesterol) in the blood are a complication of diabetes.³
Thyroid conditions like hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) can also cause high cholesterol.⁴ Your thyroid produces hormones that regulate metabolism, but hypothyroidism causes your metabolism to slow down. This means cholesterol is broken down slower.
Lifestyle factors also play a significant role. Consuming a diet high in saturated fats, not doing enough exercise, smoking,⁵ and excessive alcohol consumption can all promote high cholesterol levels.⁶
Your doctor can diagnose xanthelasma palpebrarum, and they will also determine the underlying cause. They may order tests, such as a lipid panel, thyroid function testing, and diabetic testing.
Your doctor may recommend a biopsy if they are unsure about your diagnosis. This involves taking a tissue sample from the lump and sending it to the lab for testing.
Treatment options for xanthelasma palpebrarum include:
Surgical removal (excision)
Each treatment option has advantages and disadvantages. Xanthelasma palpebrarum commonly reoccurs in approximately 40% of cases after the first treatment and 60% of cases after the second treatment.⁸ This means prevention is an important part of treatment. Prevention may involve lifestyle changes and medications.
You should not pop cholesterol deposits at home.
Attempting to remove the deposits yourself involves breaking the skin’s surface. This can lead to infection, scarring, and pain if not carried out by a professional.
You can try home remedies to reduce xanthelasma palpebrarum,⁹ but scientific evidence is limited.
Garlic has been found to reduce cholesterol levels. A study⁷ found that half to a whole raw garlic clove eaten daily can reduce cholesterol levels by approximately 10%.
Rubbing garlic on the cholesterol deposits reportedly makes them smaller. No scientific evidence backs up this claim, but the enzymes within the garlic are thought to promote tissue healing.
Remember, you should not place garlic on your skin for a prolonged period of time. Avoid doing this if you have sensitive skin.
Antioxidants and enzymes in banana peels are thought to help ease xanthelasma palpebrarum. This isn’t backed up by science, but you can try it out.
Consuming foods high in quercetin, a natural chemical found in plants may reduce cholesterol levels.¹⁰ Onions, among other fruits and vegetables, are high in quercetin.
Topical use has been suggested in published articles, but there is no real evidence of this claim.
Fenugreek seeds are said to have healing properties that can treat xanthelasma palpebrarum. You can try soaking the seeds in water overnight and applying them to the affected area.
Again, there is no scientific evidence to suggest this is true.
Xanthelasma palpebrarum is the medical term for cholesterol deposits near the eyelids. This typically occurs due to raised levels of circulating cholesterol caused by a variety of factors, including other medical conditions and lifestyle habits.
Prevention is the best medication, so you can try to make lifestyle improvements and change your behaviors. Health professionals can offer a variety of treatments, but you can try some things at home.
Although home remedies like garlic therapy are not backed by scientific evidence, you can give them a try.
Xanthelasma palpebrarum | NIH: National Library of Medicine
Diabetic dyslipidemia (2014)
Knowing your risk for high cholesterol | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Alcohol | Heart UK
Best home remedies for xanthelasma | Pick a Remedy