Corticosteroid injections (aka. intralesional steroid injections, cortisone shots) should never be used as a regular treatment for acne, but when your clear skin decides to turn on you before a major event, it can save the day.

Many can relate to this one:

It’s days before a major event, like your wedding, your 20th high school reunion or your now-to-be-globally televised award acceptance speech. Your skin has been clear and blemish-free for months or decades, even. Then, you wake to see a big, red, deep one right between your brows. You swear it has a heartbeat.

So, what can you do besides totally freak out?

A few options in no particular order:

  • Ice it. Use an OTC hydrocortisone ointment on it during the day. Apply a mild BP product and a retinoid at night.
  • Call your mom.
  • Call your best friend.
  • Call your dermatologist for a possible extraction or corticosteroid injection (aka. cortisone shot).
  • NEVER, EVER try to extract its contents yourself. You will make it worse – probably, so much worse.

What will a cortisone shot do for pimple, cyst, nodule, zit?

When a diluted corticosteroid solution is injected into an acne bump, it quickly reduces pain, inflammation and swelling. Within 24-72 hours, the acne bump will start to flatten, and hopefully disappear.

It sounds like a magical potion, right?

Well, there sadly is a downside.

Without proper dilution of the corticosteroid, it is possible for your bump to be replaced with a depression, divot or pit. This depression will level out most of the time; however, there are instances when the depression remains – permanently.

Chances of pitting or depressions increase when multiple cortisone shots are performed in the same area. For example, chances increase when a cluster of cysts on your chin are injected, or if a recurring cyst is injected one too many times.

Read about other Acne Treatments