Ever wondered about cortisone shots for acne? You are in the right place for the most thorough, first hand review of these “pimple shots” that can deflate the toughest blemish in a couple of days.
But let’s start at the beginning: You know that old saying about God laughing when you make plans? Apparently it applies to skincare and beauty beliefs as well.
Else why would someone like me, who has always vowed to keep away from anything injectable / cuttable / scalpable for my face be lying flat on my back in a dermatologist’s clinic, willingly submitting to three scary-looking injections being poked into me chin and forehead?
In my defence, the syringe was full of a cortisone solution and not Botox.
And the problem was two humungous, painful zits that just wouldn’t go away and were impossible to camouflage with even industrial-strength makeup.
Plus, I had a huge ‘do to attend in about three days and a pimply, bumpy face is definitely not the best networking accessory!
So, as a last resort, I made an appointment for a “pimple injection” — in other words, a cortisone shot for acne. And here is the entire experience.
What is a cortisone shot for acne?
Which brings us to the question: What exactly is a cortisone shot with reference to the skin and its blemishes?
Intralesional corticosteroid injections — often simply known as steroid or cortisone shots — are used to treat mammoth pimples that live deep under the surface of the skin and are hence resistant to topical medications like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid or tretinoin.
These acne shots contain a diluted corticosteroid (cortisone is a natural chemical which is released in our bodies to tackle inflammation; it should not should not be confused with “anabolic steroid”, which is a drug used for increased strength and muscle size) into inflamed acne lesions.
When should I look at a cortisone shot for my pimple?
If you have a severe acne spot that rests deep under your skin and is not coming to a head, it’s time to consult your dermatologist for a cortisone shot as it may be the most effective treatment for these painful bumps.
Not only are these pimples often painful and usually cystic (which means they contain pus), they can take anywhere upto to three months to heal on their own.
By which time, the surrounding skin is so damaged that you will definitely have a scar for years to come.
A deep seated cystic pimple may also spread the bacteria to surrounding areas if it ruptures under the skin — leading to chronic skin issues such as persistent cystic acne.
A pimple shot, on the other hand, speeds up healing and dramatically reduces inflammation.
Over the next 72 hours, the blemish softens and flattens out by 40-60%. Most lesions heal within a week after treatment.
That’s why they are often referred to as pimple killer treatments!
Acne injections also lessen the chance of the pimple leaving any scars as they reduce its intensity before the skin tissue suffers too much damage. This is especially valuable if you are prone to scarring or hyperpigmentation.
What are the potential side effects of cortisone injections for acne?
There is little risk of any major side effects with a pimple shot as long as you take the intralesional cortisone injections in a safe, sterilised space under the supervision of a medical doctor.
After the pimple deflates, you may get a “sunken pit” where the blemish used to be but this is temporary and usually vanishes within a month.
Another one of the possible side effects is hypopigmentation, where skin in the area of treatment becomes lighter than the rest of the face. This also resolves on its own in a few weeks.
However, remember that this is a medical subject and you should always take the cortisone shot for acne at a board-certified dermatologist clinic — not at a spa!
Those doctors know what they are doing, and nobody else should be allowed to inject anything into your skin. EVER. For example, while intralesional steroid injections are safe, an unskilled person may inject too much cortisone, which can then enter the bloodstream and upset your immune system.
Does the pimple shot hurt?
Ok, science lesson over — back to the real world.
Knowing how squeamish I am about pain (and about syringes coming into my face!), my doc first numbed the area with chilled ice water towels.
Then, she injected the spot with the acne cortisone injections (my pimple needed three shots with the tiny needle) and quickly followed up with another ice pad.
And honestly, it really wasn’t that painful, though I did let out a few yelps and did not think it was the most comfortable sensation.
However, someone who has ever suffered the pain of severe inflammatory acne breakouts will know this is a small price to pay in comparison.
Good thing is that the entire process was over in about 20 seconds and there was no pain afterwards. All I had to do was take an anti-allergic pill and then go about my day as normal.
The cost? Around US$125.
How fast does a pimple shot work in real life?
Here is the exact timeline:
By nighttime (roughly six hours after the shot), I had some redness at the injection site.
By the next morning, the acne lesion was much less obvious and the pain had vanished.
A day later, there was almost no sign of that very large acne cyst — and none of the scarring that I had suffered from similar monstrosities in the past.
Would I take a pimple shot again?
Definitely, especially if there is an important event or the pimple is super painful!
However, I would only go for severe breakouts of the mammoth kind that don’t respond well to topical treatments — not your regular, everyday standard pimple.
Which leads me to wonder whether I change my mind about other dermatological interventions in the future when the need actually arises?
Is the next stop — gulp! — Botox?