When To Get A Cortisone Shot

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There's nothing like waking up on a beautiful day and the right side of the bed to a newly erupted, huge cystic pimple on your chin. While you’re at it, why not forget to put on deodorant and then miss your train? Blame it on Mercury in retrograde, call it whatever you want, but it's happening and you have to deal with it. Thank God for Cortisone shots, right? Maybe! Do you even know what a Cortisone shot is? It's an important question to ask in order to determine if you should actually make a dermatologist appointment or not. Lucky for you, ITG talked to Dr. Jennifer Herrman, of MFC Dermatology in Beverly Hills, and asked her all about just that. Here’s what she had to say:

So first, can you tell me like, what a cortisone shot...is?

“Cortisone is a concentrated anti-inflammatory medicine that can be injected into painful acne cysts to speed their resolution. Redness and swelling can go down in as few as four hours, and lesions continue to improve over the following few days. Because the amount of steroid injected is small, possible side effects of oral steroids like increased appetite, weight gain or mood changes don’t occur."

Sounds great. Can you get one anytime?

“They shouldn’t be the norm, but instead the exception. They should be reserved for those deepest cystic lesions that are painful, persist for weeks, and can lead to scarring on their own—even if you keep your hands off them. The cortisone aims to decrease inflammation quickly and lessen the chance of developing a scar.”

When won't a cortisone shot work?

“Cortisone shots don’t work for whiteheads or blackheads, or lesions that aren’t red. If cortisone is injected into such acne spots, it can cause a depression [called ice-pick scars] in the skin that may become permanent.”

Are there any good alternatives if, say, you can’t make it to the dermatologist in the morning?

“Topical hydrocortisone cream applied on an inflamed bump can have a temporizing effect. Or, using a thin paste of baking soda and water, which acts as both an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, is sometimes helpful if you’re caught in a pinch.”

—as told to ITG

Photographed by Tom Newton.

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