Cortisone Shots for Acne: 7 Facts to Know Before Injection

Reviewing cortisone shots for acne treatment

Dealing with acne becomes debilitating when you do not find a cure for them after trying multiple options. Where some of you get blemishes and stubborn pimples, some get hard nodules and cysts that make life miserable.

While there are several treatment options for zits and pimples that actually shrink them, there are very few that seem to work for hard cysts and nodules. This is where cortisone shots for acne play their role.

Out of all the creams, lotions and pills, cortisone injections are the ones that quickly make your cystic acne disappear. Although, their use should be limited, they have proven to be a miracle for curing cystic acne.

This article is going to serve as your guide on how cortisone or other injections combat acne, what type of acne do they treat and what are the aftermaths. So, without much further ado, let’s begin.

What is Cortisone?

Cortisone is a steroid hormone which is naturally produced in the body. It prepares your body for action and brings about fight or flight responses. Anyhow, cortisone has many uses, one of which includes cortisone injections for curing acne.

Cortisone is the key ingredient in many anti-inflammatory and anti-itching creams. Besides, doctors have long approved its use for treating acne.

Experts’ Opinions on Acne Injections

Dr. Anna Palabyab-Rufino, member of the Philippine Dermatological Society tells, “Pimple injections, also known as intralesional steroid injections, are low-dose diluted steroid preparations injected superficially on inflamed acne.”

She furthers says, “These shots help reduce the swelling of the pimple almost instantly but it does not eliminate the bacteria that causes acne.”

Dr. Karyn Grossman, a Beverly Hills Dermatologist, also holds the same opinion. She explains, “Cortisone Injections are used to treat inflammation in the skin. The most common use of skin cortisone injections is to treat large inflamed acne cysts. However, cortisone can also be used to treat other inflammatory disorders, such as psoriasis, lupus, alopecia areata, keloid scars, etc.”

Who Is It For?

Before considering cortisone shots, you must know, whether you need it or not. Cortisone or Kenalog injections are specifically used for the treatment of nodules and cysts. However, they do not act as a preventive measure for acne.

Cortisone shots do not work for pimples or pustules as it does not do anything to extract pus that makes the core of the pimple. It only shrinks the inflamed tissue. So, it can only be used for the treatment of large, cystic acne.

Also, you should keep in mind that this is not a maintenance treatment. It can only be used for patients who want to prevent acne scarring or need instant treatment before having a major life event. Injections will help reduce the swelling and size of the pimple.

The best part about this treatment is that it works for all body parts and not only for your face.

How Cortisone Shots Work?

The technical term for this procedure is intralesional cortisone injection. Initially, a diluted corticosteroid is injected directedly into the blemish with a micro-needle injection. This shrinks the swollen wall of the cyst.

The process is quick but it can be a little painful when the needle pricks. In some cases, the dermatologist numbs the area before inserting the injection. Within 24 hours, you’ll notice the cyst softening and flattening out.

Usually, the blemish does not fully disappear but they look less inflamed, red and painful. Mostly, the blemishes heal within a week.

When to Get a Cortisone injection?

Getting a cyst or nodule doesn’t mean that you need to go and get a cortisone shot straight away. There are things you should look for:

  • You have a massive, inflamed zit for months which is not healing.
  • If your zit is incredibly large, swollen and painful.
  • You have an important event of your life coming up (for example, your wedding day).

Who Should You Consult?

Getting injections isn’t something that you should be carrying out at home. You should make an appointment with the dermatologist so that they examine you first and then make decisions.

Most of the time it happens that people instantly want to get rid of their cystic acne and opt for injections right away. This is a very inappropriate approach. You must know first whether your skin condition is curable through other options such as medicinal creams and ointments.

The doctor only recommends this procedure if there is no ultimate option other than injections. Apart from this, if you intend to carry out this procedure at home, you are putting your skin at stake.

Even if you get the required materials, you might make mistakes at diluting the corticosteroids according to your skin needs. This will, in turn cause you long-term skin damage such as acne scars.

Visiting a dermatologist is the best idea as they are trained, analyze your skin condition and then perform the procedure within a few minutes.

7 Facts to Know If You Are a Cortisone Shots Fan

There are certain things that you need to know if you use cortisone injections or are considering to get one. They are going to help you along the treatment, restrict you or going to make you aware regarding any potential threat cortisone might pose.

1- You do not need to give up your skincare routine while getting cortisone shots

Many acne-sufferers think getting an injection solves the problem and no more skincare initiatives need to be taken. This concept is wrong. A cortisone shot is only an emergency treatment. It will fade away your nodules but won’t kill any bacteria.

So, you should stick to your cleansing and exfoliating regimen while having injections. You need to get rid of any acne-causing bacteria lingering on your skin.

2- It won’t work for regular pimples

Injections are only for hard cysts or pimples that grow deep inside your skin. They are not for all types of acne. Thus, if you are dealing with comedonal acne you should try blackhead masks and spot treatments.

3- Gives fast results and is best for eruptions before big events

Since cortisone injections produce instant results, they are best for any emergency situation. Due to its super anti-inflammatory properties, it reduces the size of the blemish to a great extent. So, if any significant event is coming up, you can book an appointment with the Derm.

Acne cysts usually shrink within 4 – 8 hours after getting an injection. And they keep improving continuously in the following days. A fully swollen, red and tender cyst flattens in 24 hours and looks less noticeable.

4 – They are minimally painful

Dr. Dennis Gross, founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare says, “The injection uses a micro-fine needle and each shot takes only one second to perform. There is no bleeding or bruising following the treatment.”

He further adds, “If a cyst is painful going into the derm’s office, this is the fastest way to bring swelling down and alleviate the symptom within an hour of injection.”

Hence, the minimal pain from the injection is very tolerable and quickly goes away.

5- Cortisone injections are not a long-term treatment

These injections do not prevent breakouts from sprouting. They cannot clear up your acne. Hence, they are not a long-term acne solution. For daily acne treatment you can consider topical retinoids and isotretinoin.

Once these medications suit your skin, they will clear your zits and you won’t be needing cortisone injections any more.

6- Can cause boxcar scars

Boxcar scars are depressed acne scars with oval or round shape with steep angled sides. Getting cortisone shots frequently or getting an injection with a strong concentration of cortisone can cause boxcar scars.

These scars usually fade away but can take a long time to heal that can last up to 6 months. But sometimes, they can be permanent. In such a situation, you can go for dermal fillers but definitely with a dermatologist’s advice.

Dr. George Sun, creator of MD Sun Skincare, explains, “Overdosage or deep injection can lead to atrophy of dermal and subcutaneous tissue and leads to a depression at the injected site. While superficial depressions tend to recover, large depressions may last much longer and they may require fillers to refill the area.”

7- Can leave a lighter area on your skin

Sometimes, injections can leave a light mark on your skin. These spots are often referred to as hyperpigmentation. People with medium to dark skin tones are more prone to hyperpigmentation as compared to people with fair skin.

However, this is a temporary condition and heals once the blemish completely fades away.

After-Care Procedures

There are some minute post-treatment procedures that the dermatologist might carry out. Although, it is the skin expert who takes care of it, you should, however be aware of them.

According to Dr. Suzette Sagun-Ronquillo of The Aivee Institute, following are the after-care procedures:

  • Applying cotton to stop the pinpoint bleeding after giving the injection.
  • Application of prophylactic topical antibiotic.
  • Yellow or Red LED light application to target the inflammation and assist in wound healing.

Despite the presence of acne injections, you need to care for your skin in normal ways. Acne injections work as magic wands that make your cysts disappear quickly. However, they won’t stop you from breaking out further. So, you need to resort to other ways.

Incorporate healthy skincare in your routines like exfoliating regularly, keeping your skin moisturized and using ointments for small zits and pimples.

Last but not the least, consider cortisone injections when you feel that over-the-counter treatments are not working and you want to get rid of your stubborn cysts quickly. But make sure you visit a dermatologist or a skin care specialist for advice and further treatment.

Have you ever used cortisone shots for acne? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.

Sheikh has been blogging regularly at CAA for 4 years. He spends majority of his time studying health and technology or participating in discussions about these niches (online or offline).


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