It’s the night before your big job interview. Or the day before a big night out. Or heck, the day before Aunt Flo visits. That when it shows up, a big lump forming under your skin that you can feel, even if you can’t quite see it yet. You know that just like winter, it’s coming. Welcome to the world of cystic acne.
Most of us have had to deal with these nasty culprits at one time or another and boy, are they stubborn. The occasional cystic acne usually comes in cycles, and is most commonly associated with stress or hormonal activity, even sometimes dietary conditions. For me stress is the number-one trigger. So what to do? While you can wait these frustrating and painful blemishes out, there's also something you can do about them right now. Celebrities have been doing it for years. Welcome to cortisone injections.
What is it?
A cortisone injection is a diluted corticosteroid injected directly into the cyst, administered in a single dose and intended to dramatically reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process. It is not an antibiotic, and this is not for your regular old breakout or a long term treatment plan, but more for a specific emergency spot treatment. You can usually see results—as in going, going, gone results—in 24 to 48 hours.
Where can you get it?
You should only get anything that requires needles anywhere near your face performed by a licensed professional. I have raved before about my dermatologist, Dr. Suzanne Bruce. You can get one of these injections at a regular dermatological appointment or through the spa/aesthetician services usually offered by dermatologists and at medical spas.
Does it hurt?
While the injections don’t really hurt, the real pain comes from the shame factor, as it's embarrassing to admit that sometimes we all get those monster zits that no one wants to talk about, and no, we aren’t all blessed with perfect skin. The injection itself does sting for a moment, but the whole process takes maybe 30 seconds, tops, from start to finish. It's also a trade-off—usually the cyst already hurts or you would not be doing this.
Is it worth it?
There is some debate on this point. As mentioned above, make you sure see a licensed professional who knows what they are doing as too much cortisone or or an improper injection can cause adverse reactions. It can also be expensive, as dermatologist co-pays are not cheap (and can run you as much as $80). However, most dermatologist offices have a licensed aesthetician/spa portion of their practice and as long as you are a regular patient, the cost for this service can be as low as $25.
Are there other treatments you can use?
Texas-based skin care expert and aesthetician Renee Rouleau has a popular product she sells on her website that offers solutions for more long-term cystic acne sufferers. For those with chronic or severe conditions, prescription medicines like Isotretinoin, birth control pills, antibiotics and Spironolactone have all shown results. Cortisone injections are for the occasional 'OMG, what heck is that?!' moment when you have something important planned and can’t wait.
In my opinion, when done properly—and I cannot emphasize enough that that means by a professional—30 seconds of discomfort and a little pin prick is well worth saying hasta la vista to a third chin.