Smallpox is a virus that can be deadly. Thankfully, we’ve eradicated it from the world but there are still some reservoirs of smallpox left. The World Health Organization has kept a stockpile of smallpox vaccines so that we are prepared if there is another outbreak. Smallpox immunization poses some risks, including the possibility of scarring where the vaccination was given or even the potential of contracting the virus from the immunization. While most people don’t experience problems with their smallpox vaccinations, there are some risks and natural consequences to keep in mind before getting vaccinated. Read on to learn more about what is the scar from a smallpox vaccination and other potential side effects.
Why Did The Smallpox Vaccine Leave A Scar?
The reason for the pock scar has to do with the immune response that develops to the vaccine. The vaccine is made using the protein coat that surrounds the smallpox virus. Normally, the immune system produces special immune cells called antibodies. Antibodies bind to the smallpox protein coat, and this triggers an immune response that results in more antibodies being produced.
How Does The Vaccine Cause Scars?
Immunization Shots Cause Scars
Immunization shots are also known as vaccinations and are administered to children as a preventive measure against certain diseases like diphtheria, tetanus, polio, whooping cough, etc. They contain a dose of a dead or weakened pathogen or toxin (or parts thereof) derived from infectious organisms. They are meant to trigger an immune response in the patient to produce antibodies that can fight the disease in case of an infection. However, these shots can cause scars at the site of injection. The most common places where immunization scars are found are on the upper arm, thigh, and buttocks. The scars can vary in size, shape, and color depending on the individual.
Hepatitis B Vaccination Causes Scars
Hepatitis B is a disease that causes inflammation of the liver, resulting in a yellowish discoloration of the skin, abdominal pain, and extreme fatigue. It is caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV), which is transmitted through blood and sexual fluids. In children, it is also possible for the virus to be transmitted from the mother to the child during childbirth. Hepatitis B vaccination is administered to children in order to prevent them from getting the disease and suffering from the associated symptoms. However, the vaccine, which is administered in two shots, can also cause scars at the site of injection.
MMR and Varicella Vaccines Can Cause Scars Too
Among the most common vaccinations, MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) and Varicella (chickenpox) shots are administered to children in order to prevent them from getting the diseases. These diseases can be dangerous and even deadly in some cases, especially in babies. Mumps and chickenpox can cause fever, headache, and fatigue. In some cases, they can be fatal, especially in younger children. While the MMR vaccine is administered only once, the Varicella vaccine is given in two shots. Both these shots can cause scars in the area of the injection.
HPV Vaccine Leaves Behind Scars as Well
The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is administered to children in order to prevent them from getting HPV. This is a sexually transmitted disease that can cause cervical and other types of cancers in women. You can get HPV by having sexual intercourse with an infected partner. Men can also get the virus but are less susceptible to developing cancer due to it. The HPV vaccine is given in two shots. Both shots can cause a small scar at the site of the injection.
Tdap Vaccine Can Also Cause Scars
Tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis (whooping cough) are all potentially fatal diseases. The Tdap vaccine is administered to children between the ages of 10 and 18 to prevent them from getting these diseases. Tetanus can cause inflammation of the nerves and muscles, making the body go into spasm. Diphtheria is a bacterial infection caused by a toxin that damages the heart, lungs, and central nervous system. Pertussis is an airborne bacterial infection that can lead to coughing spells so intense that the person cannot stop coughing, vomiting, and even vomiting blood. The Tdap vaccine is a combination of the DTaP and Td vaccines that are given in one shot. This shot can cause a scar at the site of the injection.
How Can You Tell If The Scars Are From A Smallpox Vaccine?
Identifying Smallpox Scars
If you have a scar from a smallpox vaccination, there are a few signs that will point you in the right direction. Firstly, the scar will likely be a bit larger than normal, with a very slightly raised edge. Smallpox vaccination scars are generally raised, but not very high above the skin. The surface of the scar will also be very smooth and will not be very itchy or painful. In addition, smallpox vaccination scars generally fade in color after a few years, becoming less noticeable. Scars from other vaccinations are often harder to identify, since these, of course, are not responsible for eradicating an entire disease. Vaccination scars tend to be smaller than those from smallpox, and they will often have a rougher or lumpier appearance. The edges of vaccination scars may also be red or inflamed, and they may itch or be painful.
Finding a Dated Scar From a Smallpox Vaccine
If you suspect that you have a smallpox vaccination scar, you may be able to use the date on the vaccination mark as proof that it was administered after the vaccine was taken off the market. If you have a scar that matches the size and shape of a smallpox vaccination scar, and the vaccination mark is dated after 1980, it is likely that you have a smallpox vaccination scar. If the mark is dated before 1980, you may still have a smallpox vaccination scar, but there is a chance that it could be from earlier vaccination.
Seeing Discoloration or Darkening of the Skin
If you see darkening, discoloration, or a rash-like appearance where you were vaccinated, it is likely that you were given a smallpox vaccination. Since smallpox vaccinations come with a high risk of serious side effects and are not given any longer, you may have been given a vaccine that was improperly stored or contaminated in some way. Alternatively, if you were vaccinated in the past, the area may have darkened over time. Since these symptoms may also be indicative of a number of other medical conditions, it is important to see a doctor if you notice any new skin discoloration or changes.
Discovering a Lump or Irritation Where the Shot Was Given
If you have a small, hard lump where you were vaccinated, it is very likely that you were given a smallpox vaccination. Smallpox vaccinations are known for causing abnormal reactions and provoking inflammatory responses in the skin and tissue around where the shot was administered. If you have a hard lump at the site of smallpox vaccination, you should see a doctor. This lump could indicate the presence of an infection, like an abscess, or it could be a sign of an allergy or other reaction to the vaccine.
Watching for Fever, Chills, and Fatigue After a Shot
If you experience high temperatures, shivering, headaches, or other common symptoms of an infection after receiving a vaccination, it is possible that you have contracted smallpox as a result of this vaccination. Although any number of other infections could cause these symptoms, smallpox is one of the most likely causes.
What Side Effects Of Smallpox Immunization?
Along with the potential for scarring, smallpox immunization also entails some slight risks. There is a small chance of your getting the virus from the vaccination, though this is quite rare. There is also some risk of getting a mild case of an inflammatory or allergic reaction (about 1 in 3,000 cases). Localized reactions (in which only one or two spots are affected) are generally mild and go away within a couple of days. However, systemic reactions (which affect a large part of the body) are more serious and require medical attention. Some rare side effects include:
Fever: This is generally mild and lasts for about a day.
Headache: This is mild and should go away within a few hours.
Swelling: This can affect any part of the body, though it is usually mild and localized. Swelling can last for several days or up to a week.
Itching: This is common and can be treated with anti-inflammatory cream.
Smallpox vaccination is not required for travel. In fact, it is not recommended for anyone other than laboratory workers who work with the smallpox virus or people who work in the military. In most cases, vaccination is not recommended. Immunization against smallpox can pose some risks, including the potential for scarring. However, if the world were to be hit by another smallpox virus outbreak, vaccination would be the only way to protect yourself against the disease.