Rashes, itchiness and other skin problems can develop after people receive COVID-19 vaccines, but such problems are rare and go away quickly, new research shows.
For the study, the researchers looked at more than 40,000 employees of a Boston hospital system who received two-dose mRNA COVID-19 vaccines (such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines) and completed at least one symptom survey after their first shot.
"This is the first information we have on risk of recurrence of skin reactions after dose 2 when there is a dose 1 reaction," said study leader Dr. Kimberly Blumenthal. She is co-director of the clinical epidemiology program, division of rheumatology, allergy and immunology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.
"Our findings could provide critical reassurance to people with rashes, hives and swelling after dose 1 of their mRNA vaccines," Blumenthal added.
In all, 1.9% of survey respondents reported a skin reaction -- most commonly rash and itching beyond the injection site.
On average, employees reporting skin reactions were 41 years old. Skin reactions were more common in women (85%) than men (15%), and differed by race (62% white, 7% Black and 12% Asian).
More than 600 people who reported skin reactions to the first dose received a second dose and completed a symptom survey afterward. Of those, 83% reported no skin reactions after the second shot.
Of employees with no skin reaction to the first shot, 2.3% reported skin reactions after the second dose, with rash and itching being the most common.
The findings were published June 23 in JAMA Dermatology.
Skin reactions alone should not be a reason for people to skip their second COVID-19 vaccine shot, especially since reactions are so rare after the second shot, according to lead author Dr. Lacey Robinson, an allergist and researcher at Mass General.
"For those that occur within hours of vaccination, or for severe reactions at any time, patients should see an allergist or immunologist who can evaluate and provide guidance on dose 2 vaccination," Robinson said in a hospital news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 vaccines.
SOURCE: Massachusetts General Hospital, news release, June 23, 2021