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 cortisone shot.
Which brings us to the question: What exactly is a cortisone shot with reference to beauty? Intralesional corticosteroid injections – often simply known as steroid or cortisone shots – are used to treat deep papules, nodules or cysts that go down into the deep layers of the skin and are hence resistant to topical treatments like benzoyl peroxide or tretinoin. These pimples are often painful, can take anywhere between a couple of weeks to three months for healing and leave scars.
To counter these, a dermatologist can inject 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 steroids”, which are drugs used for increased strength and muscle size) into an inflamed pustule. This 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. Corticosteroid injections also lessen the chance of developing scars. This is especially valuable if you are prone to scarring or hyperpigmentation.
These are unusual, but the most common one is a “sunken” appearance where the pimple used to be. This is temporary and usually vanishes within a month.
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. Then, she injected the spot with cortisone and quickly followed up with another ice pad.
It wasn’t that painful, though I did let out a few yelps and did not think it was the most comfortable sensation. Good thing is that the whole matter was over in about 20 seconds and there was no pain afterwards. All I had to do was take an anti-histamine and then go about my day as normal. The cost? Around US$125.
By nighttime (roughly six hours after the shot), I had some redness at the injection sites. By the next morning, the zit was much less obvious and the cystic pain had vanished. A day later, there was almost no sign of the blemish – and none of the scarring that I had suffered from similar monstrosities in the past.
Would I do it again?
Definitely, especially if there is an emergency or the cyst is painful! Which leads me to wonder – would I change my mind about other dermatological interventions in the future when the need actually arises? Is the next stop – ugh! – Botox? 🙁
What about you? Have any of you gotten cortisone shots? Or dealt in any other was with a pimple that was so bad you started to panic? Share the details so others can benefit from your experience!