Cortisone is a chemical produced by the body to counter inflammation. Cortisone produced by the body is short-acting, and has only a temporary impact on inflammation, so is not very effective in helping to heal acne cysts or nodules. Cortisone injections, however, use highly concentrated cortisone, so are more effective in immediately reducing redness and inflammation, and providing long-lasting results. Although cortisone is a steroid, it is not an anabolic steroid, which is commonly used to increase strength and muscle size, and known to have harmful side effects.
Cortisone injections are used to treat severe and sustained deep-tissue acne. Severe acne may include cysts or nodules that develop on the face or other areas. Nodules are large, painful, solid lesions lodged deep within the skin. Cysts are deep, painful, pus-filled lesions. They are often difficult to clear up with common acne treatments such as topical medications. Deep-tissue acne can be painful and last for months. If left untreated, it can cause permanent scarring. Cortisone injections provide fast and effective relief.
Benefits of Cortisone Injections
Injected cortisone penetrates more deeply than just the top layer of skin, making it much more effective than topical solutions in treating cystic acne infection, and preventing scars from forming.
Treatment with cortisone injections improves the look of keloid and hypertrophic scars that have formed as a result of acne. Keloid scars are overgrown areas of scar tissue that form at the site of a previous injury such as an incision, wound or pimple. Hypertrophic scars are red, raised scars filled with excessive amounts of collagen. Cortisone injections make these types of scars less noticeable by reducing their redness and inflammation.
The Cortisone Injection Procedure
When used to treat acne, cortisone is injected directly into the affected area, where it starts to reduce inflammation right away. Healing of deep-tissue acne begins immediately after injection. The cortisone injection itself can hurt when placed into an already painful cyst or nodule. In those cases, a local anesthetic may be applied to numb the skin before giving the injection.
Multiple treatments of the same area are not needed because cortisone produces results immediately.
Side Effects of Cortisone Injections
The side effects of cortisone injections are minimal. The most common side effect, atrophy of the fatty tissue around the injection site that results in a slight depression in the skin, is temporary. In some cases, skin takes several months to return to normal. Immediately following an injection, the skin may swell slightly, but this quickly goes away. In dark-skinned people, a small white spot may appear at the injection site, but this, too, disappears soon afterward. There is almost no risk of allergic reaction because cortisone is naturally produced by the body.
Cortisone injections for cystic acne and nodules are performed in a doctor's office.