Health care providers like doctors and nurses use many different types of injectable cortisone (or steroid) medication to treat tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and joint inflammation. Skin dimpling is an uncommmon side effect to these shots.
There are several unlikely risks to having a steroid shot, which you can read about here.
What is the Problem?
One of these risks is skin dimpling from steroid injections. This happens when the steroid solution collects at the site of injection, either in the muscle or in the fatty layer beneath the skin. The steroid changes the contour or consistency of the tissue and results in a dent or dimple in the skin.
The frequency of this side effect depends to some degree on the dose and specific type of steroid injected. Some steroids are more soluble (dissolve better) than others.
The less soluble steroids tend to last longer and have a better therapeutic effect where they’re injected (generally a good thing). However, these less soluble steroids may cause more skin dimpling than the ones that dissolve better – it’s sort of a rock and hard place problem!
Skin dimpling is more likely in areas where there’s not much padding, like on the bony thumb side of the wrist, a common place for tendonitis.
How Long Does the Side Effect Last?
The effects of dimpling will appear within one to four months and may last for six months to over a year.
Some types of steroid are more commonly linked to skin dimpling (also known as fat atrophy or subcutaneous atrophy) than others. Triamcinalones (try-am-sin-alones) are the most widely known offenders, but other steroid types can potentially create this side effect.
What Can be Done to Prevent This?
Make sure you understand which steroid your doctor is using and whether he has seen this side effect in the past or not.
Deeply massage the site of the injection during the one or two hours after the shot. This will keep the steroid from accumulating under the skin and will disperse any steroid that is outside of the desired treatment area.