Most people experience minor side effects following COVID-19 vaccination. Pain, swelling, and a red or purple rash at the injection site are common reactions to these shots. Less commonly, someone may develop “COVID arm,” an exaggerated skin reaction.
COVID arm is an uncomfortable and harmless reaction that some people have to the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines. It causes a red or discolored rash, often covering a large area of skin at the vaccination site. It typically occurs around 1 week or more after vaccination and lasts 2 or 3 weeks.
This article looks at COVID arm, its symptoms, treatment, and why it happens.
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COVID arm is a
COVID arm is a delayed
COVID arm symptoms appear sometime after the vaccination, often taking 1 week or more to appear.
- intense itching
- a red, purple, or discolored rash around the injection site
- rash that spreads to hands or fingers
- pain or discomfort
- a lump at the injection site
Although this may raise some concerns, COVID arm is not serious or life threatening.
After vaccination, people
Rarely, a person develops a nodule at the injection site. It feels like a firm, soft tissue lump with no heat, redness, or signs of abscess. They can occur in the days or weeks following vaccination and may persist for weeks or months. They usually resolve spontaneously without treatment or investigation.
COVID arm occurs when the immune system overreacts to the vaccine. When vaccine medication reaches the muscle, it triggers an immune response and the immune system creates antibodies to fight off the perceived infection.
In some people, the immune reaction becomes excessive, leading to the symptoms of COVID arm. Experts are still determining why some people have this reaction and others do not.
However, because COVID arm only occurs with mRNA vaccines,
COVID arm is a delayed reaction, often taking
If the rash is itchy, a person
A person may find that applying a cool, wet compress to the area also helps ease pain and swelling.
COVID arm is not a serious condition and does not require hospitalization. In most cases, it will resolve on its own.
If a person experiences COVID arm, they should still receive booster shots. A doctor may recommend using the opposite arm for the following vaccination.
Most people with COVID arm do not require medical attention. However, if the
Symptoms of anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction, include:
- difficulty breathing
- low blood pressure
- swelling of the tongue or throat
- rash or hives
Likewise, anyone who feels severely unwell after vaccination should seek medical attention.
Anaphylaxis is a severe allergic reaction that can be life threatening. The symptoms develop suddenly and include:
- swelling of the face or mouth
- fast, shallow breathing
- a fast heart rate
- clammy skin
- anxiety or confusion
- blue or white lips
- fainting or loss of consciousness
If someone has these symptoms:
- Check whether they are carrying an epinephrine pen. If they are, follow the instructions on the side of the pen to use it.
- Dial 911 or the number of the nearest emergency department.
- Lay the person down from a standing position. If they have vomited, turn them onto their side.
- Stay with them until the emergency services arrive.
Some people may need more than one epinephrine injection. If the symptoms do not improve in 5–15 minutes, or they come back, use a second pen if the person has one.
COVID arm is a delayed allergic reaction to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. It can cause intense itching, a red or purple rash, and swelling. However, it is not serious and usually goes away on its own.
If the reaction is severe, a person may require corticosteroids, but most people do not require medical attention.
If anyone develops signs of anaphylaxis or feels unwell after vaccination, they need to seek medical attention.