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Some People Get a Rash after a COVID-19 Vaccine: Here’s Why It’s

Brinda recently received her first COVID-19 vaccine shot. She felt fine for a bit but after some time she developed a red, itchy, swollen, and even a bit painful rash. She is worried that something might have gone wrong.

Have you experienced a similar thing? If you have, then there is nothing to worry about. This reaction from a COVID-19 vaccine shot is rare but it does occur in a small percentage of people.

If you see a rash after a COVID-19 vaccine, then you should not freak out. According to experts, this is relatively minor and should not be seen as a reason to avoid getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Rash Reports

Brinda saw on the news that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some people can report rashes after their COVID-19 vaccine shots. These rashes can be red, itchy, swollen, or even painful.

The rash can begin from a few days to over a week after getting the first vaccine dose. In some cases, the rashes can also be quite large. Some experts call these rashes the ‘COVID arms.’ However, you shouldn’t be misled by it as these rashes can occur on all parts of the body.

Research has also been carried out to understand how these reactions occur and the possibility of recurrence of these reactions after getting the second dose. The details of the study are:

  • The study looked at skin reactions to mRNA vaccines
  • The study looked at 49,197 Mass General Brigham employees who were vaccinated
  • Over 40,000 one symptoms surveys were received after the completion of the first dose of the vaccine
  • Skin reactions were reported by 776 survey respondents after the first vaccine dose
  • The most common skin reactions were reported to be rash and itching on areas other than at the injection site
  • The average age of reporting a reaction was 41
  • The chances of acquiring a skin reaction also differed significantly by the race and sex of the individual
  • Skin reactions were seen in 85% of females and 15% of men
  • According to the race, whites were more affected by skin reactions followed by Asians and then African Americans
  • Among the 609 individuals who reported a skin reaction after the first dose, 508 individuals did not report any recurrent skin reactions after the second dose
  • For individuals who did not experience a skin reaction after the first dose, only a mere 2% reported skin reactions after the second dose

These findings can provide critical reassurance to individuals who suffered from rashes, hives, and swelling after their first dose of mRNA vaccines.

Should You Worry About Skin Reactions to COVID Vaccines?

Brinda had a rash after getting her COVID-19 vaccine. But she still isn’t sure whether this is something that she should worry about or not. She is also wondering if she should postpone her second vaccine shot.

According to experts, localized reactions to vaccines are fairly common. This is not a cause for concern as long as the reaction is not extensive or comes with long-term damages. It is also not a cause to postpone your second vaccine dose.

Experts believe that the irritation and swelling caused at the injection site due to the vaccine are a form of dermal hypersensitivity reaction. This is related to the immune system. And it can also be associated with the immune cell response to any particular component present in the COVID-19 vaccine.

There is still no conclusive answer as to why these rashes and skin reactions develop. Some people can also experience other reactions like:

  • Hives that are itchy
  • Raised welts on the skin
  • Pruritus, which is an irritating sensation that makes an individual wants to scratch his or her skin
  • Morbilliform eruption, which is rash similar to a measle

How to Relieve Discomfort Caused Due to Rash after COVID-19 Vaccines?

Brinda can relieve her discomfort of these reactions by using topical steroids. She can apply a warm compress or take an over-the-counter pain reliever. You can do the same if you have similar rashes after getting your COVID-19 vaccine.

If the rash is very itchy, then individuals can take antihistamines. One can also take pain medications like a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) or acetaminophen. These pain medications should only be taken if the individual is experiencing pain with the rash.

How Can I Prepare for the Possibility of an Allergic Reaction?

Brinda has already experienced an allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccine so she can’t do anything at this point but take care of the rash. However, she can be more prepared the next time she goes to get the second dose of vaccine.

By putting some safeguards in place, Brinda can make sure that she is prepared for any allergic reaction that she can experience due to the second dose of the vaccine. The techniques that she needs to follow to be prepared are:

  • Monitor your body for any severe and immediate allergic reaction right after getting the vaccine or injectable therapy. This should be done for at least 30 minutes after getting the vaccine
  • If possible, stay under professional medical supervision for 15 minutes after getting the vaccine
  • If an individual has a history of severe allergic reactions, then he or she can keep epinephrine, antihistamines, and any other necessary medications on hand at the COVID-19 vaccination site
  • In case of a severe allergic reaction, appropriate medical care should be provided rapidly and one should call for emergency medical services on the spot. The individual should be monitored in a medical facility for several hours

Dealing with a Rash after COVID-19 Vaccine

Brinda now understands why she got a rash after getting her first COVID-19 vaccination shot. She is also better equipped with taking care of the rash and feels prepared for any rash that she might experience after getting her second vaccination shot.

If you have experienced a rash similar to Brinda, then you should be prepared to. Keep in mind that having these rashes after the vaccine is common and is not a cause for concern as long as the reaction is not severe.

Getting a rash after the vaccine shot is also no excuse for delaying or not getting the second vaccine shot. Further, if you experience a severe allergic reaction after the vaccine, then get the right medical help as soon as possible.

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