Which dermatologic findings suggest hypertriglyceridemia (high triglyceride levels)?

Updated: Jul 23, 2021
  • Author: Mary Ellen T Sweeney, MD; Chief Editor: Romesh Khardori, MD, PhD, FACP  more...
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Eruptive xanthomas (see the images below) are sometimes found when sustained elevated triglycerides are well above 1000 mg/dL. These are 1- to 3-mm yellow papules on an erythematous base that are most prominent on the back, buttocks, chest, and proximal extremities. The lesions are caused by accumulations of chylomicrons within macrophages and disappear gradually when triglycerides are kept below 1000 mg/dL.

Eruptive xanthomas on the back of a patient admitt Eruptive xanthomas on the back of a patient admitted with a triglyceride level of 4600 mg/dL and acute pancreatitis.
Close-up of eruptive xanthomas. Close-up of eruptive xanthomas.

Patients with dysbetalipoproteinemia (type III) may have palmar xanthomas (yellowish creases of the palms). This type of xanthoma is considered pathognomonic for this disorder. Tuberous or tuberoeruptive xanthomas, which also may occur in other hyperlipidemias, may arise on the elbows, knees, or buttocks.

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