Do you have white bumps on your skin that looked like lumps of dried toothpaste? While many of you think it's just a whitehead, it is not. Those white bumps on your skin – mostly present in your back and shoulders – are calcium deposits caused by a skin disorder called Calcinosis. Calcium deposits can occur on any part of the body. There can be calcium deposits on your back. There can be calcium deposits on your shoulders. There can also be calcium deposits on face.
There are basically three types of calcinosis: Metastatic calcification, Tumoral calcinosis, and dystrophic calcification. Metastatic calcification happens when there is an imbalance in the systemic calcium excess. Hypercalcemia, renal failure, milk-alkali syndrome, or lack or excess of other minerals can cause metastatic calcification. It can occur widely throughout the body but it mainly affects the interstitial tissues of the vasculature, kidneys, gastic mucosa, and lungs.
Tumoral calcinosis, on the other hand, is a rare condition in which calcium deposits appear in the soft tissue in periarticular location such as the area around the joints. The formation of these calcium deposits are mainly outside the joint capsules. Some believed that the cause of it may be related to renal dialysis since Tumoral calcinosis is frequently seen in patients undergoing that dialysis. Others considered Tumoral calcinosis to be caused by hereditary predisposition. It most commonly affects children and adolescents (6 to 25 years). The symptoms of Tumoral calcinosis do not involve pain, but rather the swelling of the joints. They have the possibility to become larger, ulcerate the skin over it and extend beyond the skin overlying it. While Metastatic calcification mainly affects the interstitial tissues, Tumoral calcification mostly occurs in the area around the shoulders, hips and elbows.
The last type of Calcinosis is called Dystrophic calcification. Dystrophic calcification most commonly occurs in degenerated or necrotic tissues. This happens as a reaction to tissue damage sometimes caused by medical device implantation. It can also occur of the calcium level in the blood is not elevated.
In short, calcium deposits can occur anywhere in your body. There are also many causes that lead to Calcinosis. But the main cause of Calcinosis is malfunctioning or failing kidneys. Kidneys play a vital role in calcium homeostasis. In normal blood calcium concentrations, the calcium that enters the glomerular filtrate is reabsorbed from the tubular system and delivered back to the blood. According to the National Institute of Health in the United States, 99% of the calcium is transported to the bones and teeth; while the remaining 1% is delivered back into the blood. If the level of re-absorption of calcium by the tubular deposits decreases, calcium is loss by excretion into urine. So if you have malfunctioning or failing kidneys, it will most likely fail in getting rid of this excess calcium. In result to that, calcium residues will be left on the skin. Autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and scleroderma also contribute to the damage of soft tissues eventually leading to Calcinosis.
Calcium deposits on face are very common. But if Calcinosis is caused by autoimmune disorder, calcium deposits can also be present in different areas.
Facial tumor, facial perspiration and/or joint injury can also contribute to the formation of calcium deposits on face. The overstimulation of the thyroid gland can also contribute to the formation of calcium deposits on the skin, especially on the face because of the excess production of calcium and phosphates.
Calcium deposits can also be the result of lack or excess of minerals in your body. So it is important to ask your doctor about it. Paget's disease and other bone-related diseases can also contribute to the formation of calcium deposits on your skin.
While reading the calcium deposits stated above, you will most likely conclude that you would just limit the calcium in your diet to avoid the formation of calcium deposits on face and other parts of your body. Do not limit the calcium in your diet because this may give you lower bone density that increases your risk for bone fractures. What you must do is to make sure that you are taking the right amount your body needs.
As said earlier, calcium deposits can develop on the area of a joint injury. Calcium deposits commonly form as a reaction to trauma or to chronic irritation.
Calcium deposits can be caused by infection of the breast, brain, or kidneys, disorders of calcium metabolism, or autoimmune disorders that affect the skeletal system and surrounding tissues connected to it.
If you think you have calcium deposits on face or on any part of your body, or you are prone to have it, you should consult your doctor about it. He should ask about your past medical history and your symptoms before doing a physical exam. More often than not, your doctor will do an X-ray to look for possible calcium deposits. X-rays are the most common diagnostic tools in detecting calcium build-ups. Your doctor can also do an ultrasound or a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in order to detect calcium deposits. These tests use electromagnetic radiation to record images of your internal organs. Don't worry about pain; there would be no discomfort in these kinds of tests. From the results of these tests, your doctor should be able to detect any problems right away. If these tests showed that you have Calcinosis, other tests should be done to discover the cause of it because it may be a sign of failing kidneys or bone disease.
Based on these tests, your doctor should also be able to develop the best possible treatment for your Calcinosis. Since the areas where calcium deposits form are varied, there are numerous ways to treat calcium deposits. Treatment of Calcinosis depends on where the calcium deposits are, their cause, and what, if there is any, complications arise.
But if you have calcium deposits on face, there are home remedies you can do. First, wash your face with warm water and a gentle facial cleanser. After patting your face dry, take a small amount of olive oil and massage it to the area where the calcium deposits are. You can also use an antibiotic cream to soften the skin. Dab a small amount of the cream on the calcium deposit each day. Some people poke the center of the white lump with a sterilized needle. This is not advisable due to the risk of infection.
Other treatments include rest, ice, medicines that reduce the pain and swelling, and gentle exercises. If you are in a lot of pain due to these calcium deposits, your doctor can inject you with steroid medicine. Oral low-dose anti-coagulant theraphy was proven to be effective in preveting Calcinosis. Colchicine, on the other hand, can also be effective in reducing the inflammation of the soft tissues surrounding the calcium deposits. This should be taken along with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
If the lumps are very big and painful or only one area is affected by calcium deposits, it can be corrected by surgery. If your doctor advises you to do so, you have three options to choose from. Your first option is you can have a specialist numb the area. You would, then, undergo an ultrasound to guide the needles that would loosen and suck out the calcium deposits. Second option would be a shock wave therapy. A shock wave therapy uses sound waves that break up the deposit. Your last option is debridement. It is an arthroscopic treatment that will remove the calcium deposits on your skin.
Whatever treatment you choose, and whatever the cause of your Calcinosis, you should always consult your doctor before doing anything to the white lumps on your skin. Plus, you should only take medications that are prescribed by your doctor.