If you plan on getting the COVID-19 vaccine or have already received your first dose, you've probably done some research around what you should and shouldn't do leading up to your appointment. There have been talks of the effects the vaccine has on facial fillers, but beyond that you may be wondering if it's OK to continue with other types of injections that you typically get, like cortisone shots for acne.
To find out, we asked a dermatologist to weigh in on the risks of getting a cortisone shot around the same time as your COVID-19 vaccination.
Cortisone shots are an in-office acne treatment that dermatologists will use on deep, cystic pimples to reduce swelling and speed up the recovery process of the zit. "A potential problem with getting a cortisone shot in a pimple around the time you are getting your COVID-19 vaccine is a decreased immune response, which could reduce vaccine efficacy," said Anna Karp, DO, board-certified dermatologist at the Skin Institute of New York Dermatology. However, the chance of this risk is small.
"When injecting a pimple, we use such a small amount of cortisone — usually 2mg/ml and 0.1 of that 1 ml — that I do not think this is likely," Dr. Karp said. "The cortisone is directly going into the pimple to treat the inflammation in that one particular spot."
There is a risk associated with higher doses of steroids, like those used to treat severe allergic reactions on the skin, but Dr. Karp said those are typically taken by mouth or injected intramuscularly (into the muscle), which is where you get a COVID-19 vaccine shot. This is why before your vaccination, you'll typically be ask if you've been on antibiotics or have had any other injections recently. "That risk is not getting an adequate immune response because the higher dose steroids are suppressing your immune system," said Dr. Karp.
Although you should be in the clear to get a small, local injection of cortisone in a pimple at your dermatologist's office, there's no harm in waiting until after you're fully vaccinated either. "If you want to be extremely cautious, I would wait at least a week before and a week after the COVID vaccine before doing a steroid injection," said Dr. Karp.
In the meantime, you can always stick to an acne spot treatment to take care of it the old-fashioned way — because getting vaccinated should take priority.