Steroid injections

Steroid injections are most often used for nodules and cysts — two types of acne that cause large, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin. These types of acne can take weeks to resolve on their own. After a steroid injection, the acne lesion flattens, and symptoms resolve within two to four days. Though effective, complications can include:

  • Thinning of the skin
  • Appearance of small blood vessels on the surface of the skin
  • Skin tone that turns lighter than normal

Steroid injections are typically used as a temporary or occasional fix for stubborn acne lesions. They aren't used to treat widespread acne because of potential complications and the need for frequent doctor visits.

Cosmetic procedures

Chemical peels and microdermabrasion may be helpful in controlling acne. These cosmetic procedures — which have traditionally been used to lessen the appearance of fine lines, sun damage and minor facial scars — are most effective when used in combination with other acne treatments.

  • Chemical peels. Mild acids applied to your skin help remove dead skin cells, unclog pores and remove whiteheads and blackheads. Chemical peels can also generate new skin growth. Side effects can range from temporary redness, blisters, scaling and crusting to scarring, infection and abnormal skin coloring.
  • Microdermabrasion. This type of treatment involves a hand-held device that blows crystals onto skin. These crystals gently abrade or "polish" the skin's surface. Then, a vacuum device removes the crystals and skin cells.

If your skin tends to form exaggerated scar tissue — such as keloids — chemical peels or microdermabrasion could make your complexion worse.

Aug. 01, 2012 See more In-depth