The Effects of Steroid Treatment for Acne

by Brenda Barron

Treatments abound for acne. They range from cleansers and creams to laser resurfacing and chemical peels. One treatment that is often overlooked is the use of steroids. Corticosteroids are often used to reduce inflammation and help particularly bad acne breakouts heal. Though generally considered effective, there are some side effects associated with their use.

What is Acne?

Acne is a skin condition that can present itself in a number of ways. Blackheads, whiteheads, pustules and papules are all common types of acne breakouts, each of which require different treatment methods. Acne can cause self-esteem issues and even scarring if left untreated for too long a period.

Acne Steroid Treatment

Steroid treatment for acne is not exactly what it sounds like. These steroids are not the typical androgen-containing pills or injections that you hear about on the news in relation to professional athletes. Rather, they are often prescribed in the form of a cream or injection to relieve skin irritations. They are often used to treat fungal infections, eczema and in some cases, acne.

Why is Steroid Treatment Used?

In some severe cases of acne where large cysts are involved, scarring is a great likelihood. To minimize this chance of scarring, corticosteroids are sometimes used to reduce inflammation and help the cysts heal without causing them to rupture. It is when cysts like these rupture that scarring becomes an inevitability.

How Steroid Treatment for Acne is Administered

Corticosteroids are administered for acne by injection. These treatments involve preparing a diluted corticosteroid than injecting it directly into the cysts that require treatment. This will help reduce redness, inflammation and irritation of the cysts. It will also help them heal, without causing rupturing.

Side Effects of Steroid Treatment for Acne

One of the biggest drawbacks of corticosteroid use for acne treatment is that is can potentially leave the skin pitted following injection. This occurs because the corticosteroid can thin the skin and reduce the amount of fat in the injected area, causing a pit or depression. Luckily, in most cases, the fat regenerates and skin is evened back out, though some people who receive very strong corticosteroid injections may be stuck with permanent depressions from the treatment. Irritation and inflammation at the injection site is also common.

About the Author

Brenda Barron is a writer, editor and researcher based in Southern California. She has worked as a writer since 2004, with work appearing in online and print publications such as BabyZone, "Cat Fancy" and "ePregnancy." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from California State University, Long Beach.