Your skin is the largest organ in (or rather on) your body . This, coupled with the fact that it is outside your body and therefore easy to see, makes it a great indicator of health. If you notice a change in your skin, it likely means there is a change happening inside your body as well. Eruptive Xanthomatosis (EX) is an excellent example of this.
It is particularly important to pay attention to changes in your skin if you already have a chronic health condition, such as diabetes. In the case of EX, it could signify that your diabetes is not under control. Ignoring this symptom, then, could be severely damaging to your health.
What is Eruptive Xanthomatosis?
EX presents as small, yellow-ish red bumps on your skin. They will often show up in small clusters on the backs of your arms, around your elbows, the back of your thighs, butt, and legs. You may also get them in other areas, such as your stomach, neck, back, knees, face, and scalp, or even around your eyes .
The most common cause of eruptive xanthomas is high triglyceride (aka fat) levels in your blood. These triglycerides then leak through your capillaries (aka blood vessels) and the cells in your skin “phagocytose” or engulf them. This causes bumps to form on your skin, which are filled with fat .
Although they may look unsightly, these bumps are actually harmless. They can, however, be a sign of an underlying health condition. For this reason, if you notice these bumps forming you should talk to your doctor.
High fat levels in your blood is also known as hyperlipidemia. EX is not always a result of this condition, but it is important to determine that definitively. Lipid disorders can increase your risk of atherosclerosis, which can lead to other serious problems like a heart attack or stroke .
Other symptoms of eruptive xanthomatosis include itching, tenderness, pain, redness, or oozing.
Diabetes and Eruptive Xanthomatosis
Poorly-controlled or undiagnosed diabetes can also cause EX. This is because when you don’t manage your diabetes, there is less insulin in your body. When you have low insulin levels your body has a harder time breaking down the fats in your blood. This extra fat circulating in your blood can then accumulate under your skin and form small bumps .
Not everyone who has EX has diabetes. If, however, you have diabetes and these bumps begin to appear, you should talk to your doctor. Eruptive Xanthomatosis could signify that your current treatment plan is ineffective. According to the American Diabetes Association, EX most commonly occurs in young men with type 1 diabetes .
If you notice EX developing but you don’t have diabetes, it is possible that you have pre-diabetes. In this case, you should talk to your doctor about being tested for the condition.
Treatment and Prevention of EX
In order to treat eruptive xanthomatosis, you need to lower your blood sugar and your blood lipid levels. For people with diabetes, adjusting your insulin dose will usually clear up the condition within a few weeks . Of course, always talk to your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes treatment.
Whether your EX is a result of uncontrolled diabetes or something else, your healthcare provider will likely ask you to make some lifestyle changes that will lower your blood triglyceride levels. These may include dietary changes and increasing your physical activity levels. They may also prescribe to you some lipid-lowering medications, such as:
- Lipid-lowering antioxidants
- Bile acid resins 
Once you get your blood sugar and lipid levels under control, your eruptive xanthomatosis will clear up. If, however, you do not treat them, they could lead to pancreatitis.
The Bottom Line
Eruptive xanthomatosis is a benign condition. If you treat the underlying cause, it will usually go away within a few weeks. The important thing is understanding what that underlying cause is.
Whether your EX is a result of uncontrolled diabetes or another condition, it is important for your health to know what that condition is. Both high blood sugar and high blood triglycerides can lead to other much more serious conditions, thus you should treat them as quickly as possible.
Our bodies are very good at sending us early warning signs when something is not right. We, however, are not always good at listening to them. If you notice any changes to your body, such as eruptive xanthomatosis, talk to your doctor right away. The sooner you learn the cause, the sooner you can treat it, and the sooner you can get back to health.
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