Since the 1960s, steroid injections for keloid and hypertrophic scar formations
have gained much popularity. The wide-spread use of this treatment by dermatologists, backed by years of clinical studies, is a testament to the effectiveness of intralesional injections. Most patients do see improvements in the appearance of their scar in only a few treatment sessions with their dermatologists. But it’s important to know that while the success rate of corticosteroid injections is high, there are a number of possible side-effects.
Patients may endure either immediate or delayed reactions after receiving intralesional steroid injections. Because scars and other skin lesions are sensitive areas, patients run the risk of bleeding, enduring mild to severe pain, bruising, and infection shortly after injection. Some patients experience contact dermatitis from treatments, also known as eczema--an itchy, scaly rash on the skin.
Delayed reactions from steroid injections can occur days, weeks, or months after the initial treatment. These delayed reactions include white or brown marks on the skin, increased hair growth at the treatment site, and steroid-induced acne. A cutaneous condition known as lipoatrophy, or localized fat tissue loss, can leave small dents in the patient’s skin after injection. While most of these delayed side-effects are temporary, they can be a nuisance.
Because keloid and hypertrophic scars often require multiple steroid injections over a period of weeks or months, there is increased risk for both immediate and delayed reactions. Luckily, there are topical solutions for scar therapy that don’t involve needles or an array of unwanted side-effects.