Eczema and the COVID-19 Vaccine (2024)

COVID-19 vaccines are safe for people who have eczema, an itchy rash that is the most common type of atopic dermatitis. The COVID-19 vaccine can prevent you from getting COVID-19 and lowers the risk of developing a severe case that could lead to hospitalization, long-term illness, or even death.

The COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States have been rigorously tested and proven safe and effective. Here's what to know about getting the COVID-19 vaccine if you have eczema.

Eczema and the COVID-19 Vaccine (1)

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe and Effective for People With Eczema?

Studies show that there are few, if any, additional side effects from the COVID-19 vaccine for people with eczema. Whether you have eczema that you treat with a topical substance or a systemic medication that you take as a pill or injection, it is safe to have a COVID-19 vaccine.

There have been a few instances of eczema flaring up in people after they were vaccinated, but the benefits far outweigh the risks, and the flares were easily treated. Even if you are having an eczema flare, there is no data to suggest you should not have a COVID-19 vaccine.

Which Type of COVID-19 Vaccine Should People With Eczema Get?

There are two types of COVID-19 vaccines available in the United States, all of which are safe for people with eczema:

  • Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines: Pfizer and Moderna
  • Protein subunit vaccines: Novavax

The Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine is no longer available in the U.S. after the remaining supply of the vaccine expired in May 2023.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age 6 months and older receive an updated version of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine. These new shots protect against the Omicron strains that are predominantly in circulation.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective, even if you have eczema. People who take medication for eczema that affects the immune system should avoid "live" vaccines, but none of the COVID-19 vaccines are live vaccines. They have no COVID-19 virus in them.

In one study, a handful of people who took Dupixent (dupilumab) by injection had an eczema flare after being vaccinated for COVID-19, but it was easily treated with a topical medication. There has been no significant difference in the reaction due to the type of vaccine, or between the first and second doses.

Are There Side Effects of the COVID-19 Vaccine?

Some people who get the COVID-19 vaccine may have side effects but they are no worse in people with eczema. They tend to occur within seven days of getting the vaccine and are usually mild. Common side effects include:

  • Soreness at the injection site
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache

These side effects are more common after a second dose of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Novavax vaccine. Severe reactions to the COVID-19 vaccine are rare but include myocarditis, a serious inflammation in the heart muscle wall, and pericarditis, an inflammation of a membrane around the heart which usually goes away without treatment.

There is no evidence to suggest that people with eczema are more likely to have a serious reaction to the vaccine than people without eczema. Eczema does not suppress your immune system, though your treatment may if you take systemic medications rather than use topical treatments on your skin.

If you take a medication that affects your immune system, it could, in theory, reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine. Talk to your healthcare provider about timing of the COVID-19 vaccination and whether to hold your medication for a time around the vaccination.

Risks of COVID-19 for People With Eczema

COVID-19 killed an estimated 6.8 million people worldwide and over 1.1 million people in the United States alone by January 2023. Effective treatments for COVID-19 that have been tested for safety, including Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir and ritonavir) and Lagevrio (molnupiravir), and Veklury (remdesiver), are now available.

COVID-19 can still be serious and deadly, however, especially in high-risk people like those age 65 and older, those with weakened immune systems, or those with existing serious health conditions.

Though eczema does not make it more likely that you will have a serious case of COVID-19, you are at the same risk for severe COVID-19 if you have other risk factors. The vaccine effectively reduces the risk of having a serious case of COVID-19 and makes it less likely that you will contract it.

What Should People Avoid Before Having the COVID-19 Vaccine?

The precautions you may want to consider before getting the COVID-19 vaccine vary according to the type of vaccine. None of these precautions are connected to eczema, however. Before you get the vaccine:

  • Talk to your healthcare provider about which COVID-19 vaccine to get if you had a severe allergic reaction to a previous dose.
  • Avoid the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines if you are allergic to polyethylene glycol (PEG).
  • Avoid the Novavax vaccine if you are allergic to polysorbate.
  • Talk to your healthcare provider if you've had allergic reactions to previous vaccines or injectable medications.

If you take dupilumab for eczema, consider waiting two to three days after getting a COVID-19 vaccination before your next injection to avoid a potentially higher risk of mild side effects.

Where Does the COVID-19 Vaccine Come From?

The approved COVID-19 vaccines used in the United States follow all safety and efficacy protocols of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Here is how they are manufactured:

  • Messenger RNA vaccines are made from genetically engineered material that signals your body to make antibodies that target a protein on the COVID-19 virus surface. It does not affect your DNA or give you COVID-19. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines use mRNA.
  • Subunit vaccines use part of the COVID-19 virus that stimulates your immune system to create antibodies and white blood cells that fight COVID-19. It does not affect your DNA and cannot give you COVID-19. The Novavax vaccine uses this method.
  • Viral vector vaccines are produced by inserting genetic material from the COVID-19 virus into a different virus that becomes the vector, and instructs the body to make antibodies and white blood cells that fight COVID-19. You cannot become infected with COVID-19, and the material does not affect your DNA. The J&J vaccine used this approach.

After the vaccines stimulate the antibody reaction, your cells discard the vaccine ingredients, which is a normal bodily process.

Most of the ingredients in COVID-19 vaccines are fats, sugar, and salts like those in food. They do not contain:

  • Preservatives
  • Antibiotics
  • Medicines
  • Human or animal tissue or cells of any kind
  • Egg products, gluten, peanuts, or tree nuts
  • Metal
  • Latex
  • Human-made products like nanostructures, semiconductors, or microelectronics

Where Can You Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?

COVID-19 vaccines are widely available at pharmacies and other healthcare provider offices. You can find a location where you can get a COVID-19 vaccine by going to Vaccines.gov. Enter your zip code in as instructed for a list of locations near you. If you do not use a computer or smartphone, you can call 800-232-0233.

When Should You Get the COVID-19 Vaccine?

If you have never had a COVID-19 vaccine, you can start by getting the primary vaccination. For most people 5 years and older, you are considered up to date if you've received one updated dose. Young children may be given multiple updated doses, depending on which vaccines they've already received.

Over time, the vaccine's protection weakens, and additional doses will reinforce it. It's important to stay up to date with recommended booster doses and updated formulas.

If you recently had COVID-19, consider delaying your vaccine dose for three months from when you had symptoms or a positive test. People who are moderately or severely immunocompromised should talk to their healthcare provider about the COVID-19 vaccination.

Summary

There are no additional risks from the COVID-19 vaccines for people with eczema. A handful of people had an eczema flare after having the vaccine, which was easily treated.

Even if you are on an injectable medication for eczema, you can still get the COVID-19 vaccine safely. The benefits of being protected from COVID-19 and protecting others by getting the vaccine far outweigh the risk of getting a severe case of COVID-19.

A Word From Verywell

There's been a lot of discussion and misinformation about vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no evidence that the vaccine is dangerous, affects your DNA, or allows you to be tracked.

Vaccines have saved countless millions of lives around the world. The COVID-19 vaccine was developed carefully, with technology speeding up the process so that it could ward off deaths and serious disease.

The risk of severe COVID-19 may be lower now, but there's little reason not to get a booster or, if you haven't been vaccinated, to get your primary dose. You'll be protecting yourself and others.

Eczema and the COVID-19 Vaccine (2024)

FAQs

Can the COVID vaccine increase eczema? ›

However, the National Eczema Society has acknowledged multiple patient reports of worsening eczema after COVID-19 vaccination and published reports documenting eczematous reactions to the vaccine in patients with prior disease.

What are the long term skin issues after COVID vaccine? ›

Among these, several cutaneous diseases (lichen planus, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, bullous disorders, eczema, urticaria, atopic eczema, alopecia areata, chilblains, pityriasis rosea, vitiligo, etc.) developed or exacerbated after COVID-19 vaccination have been described.

Can COVID-19 cause eczema? ›

Managing the risk of COVID-19 through handwashing and mask-wearing can cause eczema symptoms to flare up. 2 Stress also impacts eczema symptoms, and many people are finding living during a pandemic particularly stressful.

What are the cutaneous side effects of the COVID vaccine? ›

According to our literature review, the most common cutaneous side effects following COVID‐19 vaccination were local reactions at the injection site, such as erythema, swelling, tenderness, pain, stiffness, and itching within7 days of injection. 3 , 4 , 7 Significant delayed local reactions, typically starting 8 days ...

Can you have a delayed skin reaction from the COVID vaccine? ›

Delayed local reactions were most common, followed by local injection site reactions, urticarial eruptions, and morbilliform eruptions. Also, it was noted that the Moderna COVID-19 immunization case series exhibited delayed significant local reactions that manifested eight days after the initial dose [4].

Why have I suddenly developed eczema? ›

Eczema triggers

Common triggers include: irritants – such as soaps and detergents, including shampoo, washing-up liquid and bubble bath. environmental factors or allergens – such as cold and dry weather, dampness, and more specific things such as house dust mites, animals, pollen and moulds.

Does having eczema make you immunocompromised? ›

No, having eczema doesn't automatically mean you have a weak immune system. It does mean that your immune system is sensitive, often overreacting to things that aren't real threats to your body. Some people with eczema have a primary immunodeficiency disorder that may make them more likely to get infections.

Why is eczema on the rise? ›

Experts believe that eczema is more common in developed countries because of clean living conditions, childhood vaccines that lower infection rates, and antibiotic use. These things change your immune response and make you more likely to have atopic diseases, like eczema.

What skin conditions are linked to COVID? ›

Some of the most common acral skin presentations of COVID‐19 include: acral papulo‐vesicular eruption, acral urticarial lesion, acral non‐inflammatory purpura and necrosis, acro‐ischemia associated COVID‐19, acral vasculitis, chilblain‐like lesion (COVID Toe), acral erythema multiform (EM) like lesion, hand and foot ...

Can a virus trigger eczema? ›

Watch out for viral illnesses

Fishbein noted. “If you get something like the common cold, it can cause all the inflammation in the body to uptick, which also causes eczema inflammation to uptick on the skin where it is visible as a general eczema flare.”

What are the serious adverse reactions to the Covid-19 vaccine? ›

The two serious adverse events following COVID-19 vaccination currently used in the United States are anaphylaxis and myocarditis or pericarditis.

What are the side effects of the COVID vaccine on the face? ›

Adverse events affecting the orofacial region were reported for both vaccines. These were rare and included acute peripheral facial paralysis (Bell's palsy), facial swelling, and swelling of the lips, face or tongue associated with anaphylaxis.

What are the side effects of the COVID vaccine inflammation? ›

The diagnosis was multisystem inflammatory syndrome resulting from coronavirus disease vaccination. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS) is a serious complication of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection that affects multiple body systems (cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, skin).

What is eczema vaccinatum? ›

Eczema vaccinatum (EV) is a complication of smallpox vaccination that can occur in persons with eczema/atopic dermatitis (AD), in which vaccinia virus disseminates to cause an extensive rash and systemic illness.

What is dermatographic urticaria? ›

Dermatographism, also known as dermographism urticaria, or urticaria factitia, is an urticarial eruption upon pressure or trauma to the skin. The literal meaning is "to write on the skin." Downward pressure on the skin produces a linear wheal in the shape of the applied external force.

Can you have a delayed reaction to the COVID vaccine urticaria? ›

22 total patients were determined to have urticaria thought to be attributed to Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations. Six of the 22 (27%) had pre-existing chronic spontaneous urticaria (CSU) which worsened notably after vaccination, and 16 (73%) had novel development of delayed urticaria following vaccination.

What are the unusual side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine? ›

The largest vaccine safety study to date has identified two new, but very rare, side effects associated with covid-19 vaccines—transverse myelitis and acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. The Global Vaccine Data Network cohort study included 99 million vaccinated people from 10 sites across eight countries.

What are the skin conditions after COVID-19? ›

To date, maculopapular rashes, urticarial lesions, and chilblains are the most frequently reported skin manifestations of COVID-19. Various cutaneous clinical patterns related to SARS-CoV-2 viral infections occur at different times throughout the disease course and may predict severity and prognosis.

Which group of people are more likely to get eczema? ›

The numbers vary in different studies, but in the adult population alone, multiracial or white people appear to have the highest rates of eczema. In the U.S., eczema affects more Black children and European American children than Hispanic children. But Black and Hispanic children have more serious cases of eczema.

What are the side effects of the Covid vaccine on the face? ›

Adverse events affecting the orofacial region were reported for both vaccines. These were rare and included acute peripheral facial paralysis (Bell's palsy), facial swelling, and swelling of the lips, face or tongue associated with anaphylaxis.

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