What Is a Cortisone Shot?

A cortisone shot or injection is done on a patient to help reduce the swelling of a lesion in a swift manner. An acne lesion can be referred to as a nodule or a cyst, and typically have a diameter of 5 mm or more. This form of acne is often called cystic acne.

When a patient requests a shot, it is done to help reduce scarring that can often occur as a result of the lesion; they are conducted by a dermatologist and there is no restriction to their frequency.

Our adrenal glands release cortisone naturally when they become stressed, when this happens the body naturally fights off inflammation. When an area is inflamed an injection can help to reduce it.

How Does a Cortisone Shot Help?

In 1954 two studies were conducted to determine the effectiveness of cortisone being applied intravenously to a patient with cystic acne. The belief was that the chemical can help to heal the inflamed spot and speed up healing almost immediately.

The first study confirmed that all six participating patients had reduced acne symptoms from the intravenous cortisone they received.

In the second study, where systemic cortisone was used, the results were less dramatic, only 5 of the 17 patients declared that their acne cleared up, but there was no indication as to how the cortisone was given to the patients.

Unfortunately, the studies are obsolete and more research needs to be conducted to support the belief that cortisone shots could and should be used to treat acne. Currently, many dermatologists do use this method of treatment with positive results.

Side Effects of the Cortisone

Before you consider receiving a cortisone shot to treat your acne you should be aware of the following possible side effects.

  • Pain

Most doctors treat the area beforehand with a numbing agent, such as a topical anesthetic, but pain can still be felt.

  • Atrophy of Tissue

When a patient receives a cortisone injection the surrounding fatty tissue may display signs of atrophy, that is a sunken impression of the skin. This appearance can take a few months to disappear.

  • Thinning of Skin

When cortisone is used regularly it can actually prevent the skin from being able to repair itself naturally and the top layer of the skin will actually become thinner.

  • Hypopigmentation

Essentially, a white spot at the site of the injected cortisone may appear, specifically if the patient has a darker skin color.