Why cortisone shots aren't your best bet for taking down cystic acne anymore.

14 02 cortizone shots acne treatment

The popular procedure known as corticosteroid injections, involve injecting a cyst (pimple) with a diluted solution of cortisone, a steroid that helps deflate the suckers almost instantly. Like all things too good to be true, the miracle injection does come with possible side effects. Atrophy of the skin, thinning, redness and discolouration are just a few.

Leading dermatologist, Dr. Lisa Kellett of DLK on Avenue (http://www.dlkonavenue.com/) happens to think the cortisone shot has had its 15 minutes of fame. “It’s a very outdated way to treat acne because the best way is prevention,” says Dr. Kellett. “It’s not a bad treatment but it’s definitely fallen out of favour.”

Naturally, we asked Dr. Kellett about skincare’s new golden child to treat deeply embedded acne such as cysts, nodules and papules?

“There are other options like special light therapy, laser and peels. It was one thing 20 years ago when it was all we had but now, with the advent of better topical agents in new formulations, there are all these new things you can do before resorting to a cortisone shot,” she says.

These new therapies, also fall in line with Dr. Kellett’s mantra that acne treatment should ultimately be about treating the whole face instead of just one area.

“The treatment of acne is not just to come in and get a shot. You have to dig a bit and find out what’s causing the acne. Those are important questions to ask and if you don’t ask, you’ll keep coming back and exposing yourself to more risk with a steroid injection,” she says. Dr. Kellett says this involves looking into a patient’s medical history and skincare routine and determining what course of action will prevent them from getting cystic acne in the first place.

With that said, even our friend’s with the clearest skin conditions occasionally get a blotch on the proverbial clean record. If they need to get rid of it in a hurry, “we can look at Blu Light (Cost: $150 per treatment) therapy that works as quickly as cortisone because it’s also an anti-inflammatory, says Dr. Kellett, “and you’re treating the entire skin’s surface as opposed to one bump.” Blu Light Therapy is a non-invasive laser treatment that works especially well for cystic acne, penetrating the skin and killing bacteria.

So with all these new treatments, are there any instances where our old friend the cortisone shot would be appropriate?

“It’s rare but maybe if a celebrity’s film is opening at TIFF, or someone has to go on television right away. It has to be something really, really significant,” says Dr. Kellett.

So there you have it. Pending an Oscar appearance, the cortisone shot seems to be a thing of skincare past.