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What do white bumps behind the earlobe indicate?

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Practicing since : 1982
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My mom is 70 years old. She has numerous small white bumps located behind each earlobe that look like puss filled pimples. She has been told they are calcium deposits. How can we treat/eliminate them? They are not painful, just annoying for her.
Posted Sun, 17 Aug 2014 in Skin Hair and Nails
Answered by Dr. Ilyas Patel 3 hours later
Brief Answer:
Calcinosis cutis

Detailed Answer:

I read the history and saw the photo. I feel that the lesions may be calcinosis cutis most probably. You consult expert dermatologist for firm diagnosis and treatment.

Calcinosis cutis is a condition of accumulation of calcium salts within the dermis.

There are different types of calcinosis dystrophic,metastatic,idiopathic and iatrogenic.

In your mom case, it seems idiopathic,as there is no other symptom or pathology.

Lesions may become tender and ulcerate, discharging chalk-like creamy material consisting mainly of calcium phosphate with a small amount of calcium carbonate.

Laboratory tests are performed to determine any metabolic abnormalities that may give rise to elevated calcium and phosphate levels.

Radiological examinations including plain film x-ray, CT scanning and bone scintigraphy may be done to find out the extent of tissue calcification.

Biopsy of cutaneous lesions is used to confirm diagnosis.

The underlying cause of calcinosis cutis should be identified and treated accordingly. Medical therapy may be used to help relieve symptoms of the condition but are generally of limited and variable benefit.

Medicines have limited benefit, still ...certain medicines that may be tried like ...corticosteroids, probenecid, colchicine, sodium etidronate, diphosphonates, diltiazem, and magnesium and aluminium antacids.

Surgical intervention may be cosidered,but for painful lesions.. But, relapse may occur. Each lesion may be removed under local anaesthesia.

Electric shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), the procedure which is used to “blast” kidney stones, may have some use in calcinosis cutis.

I hope this would be helpful for treatment of your mom. You consult dermatologist and general surgeon for line of treatment. If it is not embarassing, let the lesions remain untreated.


Dr. Ilyas Patel MD
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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