Cortisone Shot For Acne Treatment: Benefits And Side Effects

Reviewed by Dr Ashok Gund, MBBS, CSD
Written by Ramona Sinha, Certified Skin Care Coach

It may be time for you to get a cortisone shot for acne if your pimples have become painful and uncomfortable and show no signs of going away. Acne, regardless of type, can be difficult to manage, but cystic pimples are a different issue. They are excruciating to touch, difficult to get rid of, and take an eternity to disappear. That is why cortisone injections are seen as a turning point for people with cystic acne.

Cortisone injections were introduced in dermatologic therapy in 1961. They have been used extensively since then to treat various skin conditions (1). Acne cysts are one of the most prevalent disorders treated with cortisone shots.

Acne is a pretty common condition that affects up to 80 % of adolescents (2). It can have a negative impact on the mental health of the individual as it leaves behind unsightly scars and pigmentation, leading to immense psychological distress (3), (4).

It has also been found that anxiety and depression are more common in patients with acne (5), (6), (7).

Cortisone shots can be given to the patient in the early stages to prevent unsightly scarring and discoloration.

In this article, we have discussed all about cortisone shots for acne treatment. Keep reading to find out more!

What Is A Cortisone Shot?

Steroids are a class of medication that regulate diverse cellular functions, like inflammation (8). Due to their anti-inflammatory action, steroids are one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the world (9).

In dermatology, the most commonly used cortisone preparation is triamcinolone acetonide. These injections are a standard mode of treatment for many skin diseases like keloids, acne, and alopecia areata (10).

Cortisone injections deliver steroids directly into skin lesions.

The cortisone is deposited in the skin to be delivered over a period, resulting in prolonged therapy while minimizing the adverse effects of systemic therapy. This treatment is extremely effective, easy to perform, and relatively safe.

When And Where To Get A Cortisone Shot?

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Cortisone shots are given to provide rapid relief from nodulocystic acne – an advanced stage of acne characterized by multiple cysts, nodules, and scars (11).

You can also get them if you want to treat a single painful acne cyst quickly. Always get your steroid shot from a certified dermatologist as only they are skilled enough to inject the medication in the proper manner and dosage.

No special preparation is required for this procedure. It is done at the clinic and can take 5 to 15 minutes. You need to inform your doctor if you have any allergies or are on any blood-thinning medication, such as aspirin or warfarin, as they can increase the chances of bruising at the site of injection. A dressing might be placed over the area, which can be removed after a few hours.

A Word Of Caution

Never get a cortisone shot at the same spot within three weeks as it may cause some side effects. Triamcinolone acetonide is a long-acting steroid that remains at the site of injection long enough to produce a substantial anti-inflammatory effect. Therefore, you don’t need to inject it into the same area repeatedly within a short span of time..

What Is The Mechanism Of Action Of Cortisone Shots?

An acne cyst is a nidus of pus and inflammatory cells accompanied by extensive inflammation. Cortisone injections are given to curb this inflammation. They decrease the inflammatory cells at the site of the lesion. When the inflammation goes down, so does the pain and the size of the cyst (12).

Are Cortisone Shots For Everyone?

Cortisone shots can be taken by anyone who wants to get rid of a cyst quickly. However, avoid getting multiple injections in a single sitting in case of extensive lesions.

These shots can be taken by everyone, including pregnant and lactating women. They can be taken by people of any age, though the pain and fear of needles may be a deterrent for children.

These injections should be avoided by anyone who is allergic to triamcinolone acetonide. Avoid injecting sites where there is a fungal or viral infection on or around the lesion.

What Are The Benefits Of Treating Acne With Cortisone Shots?

Cortisone shots offer more benefits than other medications.

Firstly, when topical medications fail, these injections penetrate deep into your skin and treat deep-seated conditions.

Secondly, oral medication may have some general side effects on your body. Injecting the medicine at the site of the lesion keeps it confined in that area.

Thirdly, they treat acne more quickly, saving your skin from scars and pigmentation.

But, the big question remains…

Are There Any Side Effects Of Cortisone Shots?

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When these steroids are not injected in a proper manner or in the correct dosage, it can lead to certain side effects:

• It may cause thinning of skin (known as atrophy), leading to a slight indentation at the site of injection.
• It may cause hypopigmentation, i.e., lightening of skin at the site of injection.
• It may cause telangiectasia, i.e., the blood vessels around the site of injection may become more visible than normal (13).
• In very rare cases, it may cause an allergic reaction if the patient is allergic to any of the components of the injection.

Keep in mind that any atrophic scars or hypopigmentation caused by cortisone injections are fairly permanent and very difficult to get rid of.

Therefore, it is imperative that you get these shots from a dermatologist who knows how to dilute the steroids in the proper concentration and inject them at the proper site of the lesion.

Cortisone Shots – After-Care

Once you get your shot, you don’t need to do much except just wait for the zit to subside. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic cream that you need to apply for a few days.

Avoid touching the lesion and don’t apply any other cream apart from what your doctor has prescribed.

How Much Do Cortisone Shots Cost?

A cortisone shot can range from anywhere between $25 to $100 per sitting. This includes the cost of the medication and syringe. However, your doctor may quote a different price based on their expertise and experience.

Cortisone Shots At Home

We would strictly advise you not to attempt to give yourself a cortisone shot at home. Always get procedures done by a dermatologist who has the proper knowledge and skill to perform such procedures.

Also, only a dermatologist can assess your lesions and make an informed decision on the course of action that needs to be followed.

As mentioned above, if the injections are not injected in the correct dosage or the precise place, they can lead to atrophy of the skin and/or hypopigmentation. Therefore, always make it a point to consult a dermatologist.

When used cautiously, cortisone injections are a simple and fairly safe procedure that is an integral part of dermatology. The procedure does not require a lot of time and can be done in minutes. It does not cost much and can help you get rid of huge, painful pimples in a matter of a few hours to a few days while preventing unsightly scars and pigmentation.

Whether you get pimples occasionally and want a quick fix or are experiencing a more advanced stage of acne, like nodulocystic acne, cortisone shots could be the key to gaining freedom from those zits.

Cortisone shots are a boon to people with cystic acne. These shots inject steroids directly into skin lesions and help manage acne issues. Using cortisone shots for acne is an effective, easy, and safe technique. It helps manage the inflammation and decreases the cells at the site of the lesion. You can take this shot without any special preparation, and it will be done in 5 to 15 minutes. Though anyone can take this injection, people allergic to triamcinolone acetonide should avoid it. Since it is not advisable to get this done at home, you should visit a doctor to perform this procedure.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Are cortisone shots painful?

Cortisone shots can be fairly painful but are generally tolerable. They usually don’t require anesthesia. Sometimes, if the cyst is infected and full of pus, the doctor may pierce it first to let the pus out and then give the injection. The drainage of pus can be really painful for some people.

What is the healing time for acne after getting a cortisone shot?

You may notice a dramatic flattening of the cyst after getting a cortisone shot. This usually occurs within 48-72 hours (14).

Is it safe to get a cortisone shot for acne while pregnant?

Yes, it is safe to get cortisone shots on acne cysts while pregnant as the medication remains confined in that particular area and does not spread to other areas of the body. In fact, these drugs are one of the safest to take during pregnancy or lactation (15).

For which other skin conditions are cortisone shots used?

Cortisone injections are used to treat a variety of skin conditions like keloids, hypertrophic scars, and localized hair loss (alopecia areata).

Key Takeaways

  • Cortisone injections were first used in dermatology in 1961 and have since been widely utilized to treat various skin problems, including acne cysts.
  • Cortisone injections deliver steroids into the skin lesions. They are highly effective, simple to administer, and relatively risk-free. The procedure is performed at the clinic and takes 5 to 15 minutes.
  • However, if you have a lot of lesions, you should avoid getting multiple injections in one sitting.
  • Also, anyone who is allergic to triamcinolone acetonide should avoid these injections.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.
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Dr Ashok Gund

(MBBS, CSD (Dermatology) )
Dr. Ashok Gund started with Ultrasonic Lipolysis, I-Lipolysis treatments for Fat Loss & Body Reshaping treatments along with Aesthetic PRP... more

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