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The Miracle of Cortisone Shots for Acne -- and the Risk That Goes With It

Learn why a cortisone shot for acne has risks but might be worth it

When over-the-counter acne medications just don't cut it, you might consider a cortisone shot for acne instead. Before you make that appointment, though, it's important to understand which types of acne react best to a cortisone shot. Read on to find out the benefits as well as the risks of an acne cortisone shot.

Read on for the pros and cons of cortisone shots for treating acne
Thumb and Image via Getty

How Cortisone Treats Acne
Cortisone is a type of steroid, but don't let that scare you off. Cortisone is used to treat a variety of conditions from arthritis to acne by reducing inflammation. Inflammation causes acne, especially cystic acne, to swell and become painful and red. A steroid shot for acne reduces that inflammation, which means the acne is less apparent and you'll experience less pain.

What Is It Like to Receive a Cortisone Shot?
Cortisone shots are often administered as an outpatient procedure by your family doctor. The doctor may choose to numb the area with an injection first. Sometimes, dermatologists perform the treatment.

Your doctor will inject the cortisone directly into your cystic pimple. Optionally, the doctor may drain sebum from your pimple, which can also reduce the size immediately. Over the next 24 hours, cortisone will begin to affect your acne, decreasing it in size.

Are Cortisone Shots for Everyone?
Based on the price alone, cortisone shots for acne aren't the best solution for everyone. Even if you can afford cortisone shots to treat your acne, your doctor may recommend other resolutions first if he or she considers a steroid shot for acne to be the last resort to consider. You might opt to see your doctor for this treatment before a wedding or another big event.

A cortisone shot treats cystic acne. If you don't have cystic acne, a steroid shot may do nothing for you. Regular pus-filled pimples simply dilute the steroid, which prevents it from working.

The Real Risks of Cortisone Shots
Even if the shot does reduce your pimple quickly, there is a chance that your skin will have a small indent or impression, known as a divot or pit, where the pimple used to be. In some cases, this disappears within a few weeks or months. However, some people have scars where their acne once was.

Your skin is more likely to react with these impressions if you frequently receive cortisone shots for acne or if your doctor uses a high concentration. Again, it's best to use for emergencies only, not a regular acne treatment.

Your doctor might recommend changing your diet or hygiene routines to prevent acne. If your acne is caused by hormonal fluctuations due to your cycle, you might consider birth control before trying cortisone to treat acne.

For some people, however, getting cortisone shots for acne is the only thing that relieves the discomfort and physical appearance of their blemishes.


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