Vaccine Scars: How To Avoid/Hide Them

Vaccine Scars: How To Avoid/Hide Them

There’s nothing pretty about vaccine scars.

While not as common as they once were, vaccine scars can detract from a person’s physique, drawing the eye to a nasty little patch of crinkled skin, usually in the shoulder.

In this article, we delve into the topic of vaccine scars. We’ll identify which vaccines produce them and, more importantly, how to avoid or hide them. 

Why We Scar?

Scarring is a result of the natural healing process when the skin is traumatized.

The underlying skin tissue is disrupted. This kickstarts a healing process within the skin.

When the healing process is completed there will often be some residual or scar tissue on the surface of the skin.

The severity of the scar depends upon the size and depth of the trauma, as well as the location on the body. The upper part of the body tends to scar more than the lower part.  

The Most Common Scar Causing Vaccine

Giving Vaccine

The most common scar causing vaccine is the smallpox vaccine.

It is recognized as a small circular area of wrinkled skin on the shoulder.

While this can be quite an annoyance, it represents one of science’s great accomplishments – the eradication of a disease.

Smallpox has been plaguing mankind for thousands of years. It is an extremely contagious disease that is caused by the variola virus.

The initial symptoms of the disease are similar to influenza. It then advances to include vomiting, backache, and nausea.

After about two weeks, reddish spots called enanthem to appear. These get bigger and then break apart, releasing the virus into the saliva. 

From here the disease could progress in one of four areas. 90 percent of cases will develop as ordinary smallpox.

A rash is produced which is densest on the face. Scabs then form over the lesions. In one case study, the death rate was 62 percent for people with ordinary smallpox.

Modified smallpox was a less severe form of the disease that occurred in previously vaccinated people and was rarely fatal. 

Malignant smallpox featured lesions that were flatter than normal. This form was almost always fatal. Finally, hemorrhagic smallpox involved a lot of bleeding into the skin.

This will cause the whites of the eyes to turn red. This form was usually fatal. 

Historians estimate that around 400,000 people per year in Europe died of smallpox in the 18th century.

There would be intense periods of the outbreak that were devastating to society. It was Edward Jenner who discovered that vaccination could prevent smallpox in 1798.

Then in 1967, the World Health Organization undertook a worldwide campaign to eliminate the disease.

By 1980, that lofty goal had been accomplished, making smallpox the first disease to have been wiped out by vaccination.

Smallpox Injection

Since then another virus, rinderpest was also eliminated by vaccination. 

This overview of the terrible symptoms of smallpox, help us to put the small shoulder scar that is the remnant of the vaccine, into perspective.

The distinctive smallpox scar is the result of the twp pronged needle that is used to inject the vaccine into the system. It is also the result of the smallpox virus itself.

The disease causes blisters all over the body. It also causes a blister to occur at the site of injection, where antibodies will begin to form. 

After the injection has been administered, the injection site will be covered with gauze. The site of the injection will begin to heal over the next three weeks.

Over this period of time, the immune system is building up its natural resistance to the virus. The appearance of the smallpox vaccine scar will differ slightly from person to person.

On the third day after injection, the vast majority of people will see a raised red bu,p at the injection site.

A couple of days later, this bump will fill up with aa clear fluid. A week after injection, the fluid inside the bump will appear cloudy.

After a week and a half, the bump will be at its most prominent. From there, it will gradually get smaller.

Within two to three weeks from the date of injection, you will be left with a small, but permanent, scar. 

As a result of the eradication of smallpox, the vaccine is no longer available to the general public.

However, in the wake of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack, the US Government hs a smallpox vaccination readiness program set to be rolled out very quickly in the case of a smallpox biological attack. 

BCG Vaccine Scar

Scar Form Vaccine

Another vaccine that leaves a scar is the BCG vaccine.

This vaccine is used to vaccinate against tuberculosis (TB). In parts of the world where TB and leprosy are common, babies are given a BCG vaccination as soon after birth as possible.

In other parts of the world, it is only high-risk children (i.e. those traveling to high-risk countries) who are vaccinated. 

The BCG vaccine will cause some blistering and scarring at the site of the injection, along with some pain.

The most common injection spots are the buttocks and the deltoid. It will leave a permanent raised scar which looks quite a lot like the smallpox scar.

Scar Removal

People react quite differently to scars on their bodies.

Some view them as war wounds to be worn with pride, while others are desperate to get rid of them.

If you re in the latter camp, you may be interested in laser scar removal in order to get rid of your smallpox or BCG vaccination scar.

Even though these two vaccine scars are quite small, they usually occur on the shoulder, which is a very visible part of the body for women who love to wear sleeveless dresses (or guys in muscle tank tops!). 

Resurfacing laser treatment is able to deliver a course of laser treatments.

While it won’t entirely cure the area, it will provide a 50-60 percent reduction in the appearance of the scar. This is a painless procedure. 

How to Hide Your Vaccine Scar

Rejuveness Cream

The best way to hide a vaccine scar is to make use of a wrinkle cream product.

This will allow you to smooth out the pitted skin of the vaccine scar in order to flatten it out. You should also use a concealer product.

Here are the steps that you should follow:

  • Wash the area of the vaccine scar with lukewarm water and a mild cleanser. Then pat the area dry with a towel.
  • Put a dab of wrinkle filler on your finger and blot it onto the rea of the vaccine scar.
  • Clean your finger and then dab it with concealer. Be sure that the concealer matches your natural skin color.
  • Tap the concealer dabbed finger onto the vaccine scar area. Keep doing this until the scar is covered by the concealer.
  • Hold the concealer in place by dusting the vaccine scar area with loose translucent powder.


Another way to hide a vaccine scar is to get a tattoo. Vaccine scars usually occur on the shoulder, which is a common and obvious place to get a tattoo.

As the vaccine scar is not very big, you do need a very prominent scar to hide it. 

Scar Reducing Cream

Another option to hide your vaccine scar is to make use of a scar reducing cream. There are a number of these products in the market.

When making your selection, look for a product that contains the following ingredients:

  • Quercetin
  • Petrolatum
  • Vitamin C

Vaccine Scar FAQ

Do I Have To Worry About Scarring From Vaccines?

Hiding Vaccine Scar

No, you do not have to worry about scarring from vaccines for either you or your child.

Modern-day vaccines do not leave a scar unless you are taking the BCG vaccine for tuberculosis.

Even then, you will have the option of getting the vaccination in the buttocks as opposed to the shoulder, making the scar far less visible.

The only other vaccine to leave a scar is the smallpox vaccine, which is no longer given as a result of the smallpox virus being eliminated. 

Why Is The Smallpox Virus No Longer Given?

In 1967, the World Health Organization (WHO) undertook a massive worldwide campaign to eliminate smallpox.

Within thirteen years this lofty goal had been achieved. The smallpox vaccine stopped being given in the United States in 1972.

As of April 14th, 1978 there have been no cases of smallpox reported to the World Health Organization.

The United States government has become increasingly worried about the potential for smallpox based biological attacks since the events if September 11, 2001.

As a result, it has a full smallpox vaccination program on standby, ready to be implemented at a moment’s notice. 

What Are The Six Types Of Vaccines?

Needle On Skin

The vaccines on the CDC schedule of recommended vaccines naturally fall into the following six clusters:

  • Cancer vaccines: hepatitis B and HPV, designed to prevent chronic infections that may lead to cancer.
  • Live-virus vaccines: measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox, all weakened live-virus vaccines.
  • Influenza vaccine: both the seasonal flu shot (usually three strains at once) and shots for specific strains like H1N1.
  • Enteric vaccines: rotavirus, polio, and hepatitis A to prevent viral infections that enter the body through the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Early bacterial vaccines: diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus;  these are the oldest vaccines still given and they were put together in the 1940s in the first combination vaccines.
  • Bacterial meningitis vaccines: Hib, pneumococcal, and meningococcal, all bacteria that can cause meningitis (and in the case of streptococcus pneumonia, illnesses like pneumonia and other invasive infections).


Vaccine scars are not really an issue today.

Since the eradication of the smallpox virus, and thus the ending of the smallpox vaccine, the only vaccine to leave a scar is the BCG virus for tuberculosis.

However, this vaccine is not given s a matter of cause and those who are deemed at risk (such as those traveling to an area of the world that is high risk for TB or leprosy) can opt to get the vaccine in the buttocks, which is a less visible part of the body than the shoulder.

Options for hiding vaccine scars include laser treatment, cosmetic covering, tattooing and the application of scar reducing cream.

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