Many people have a small round scar on their left arm and it’s often different in size and shape in different people. But, where did this scar come from? Well, people who have been vaccinated for small pox are those who have a scar like this. Small pox was regarded as a serious issue before 1970s and this vaccine was mandatory.
Doctors used the Vaccinia virus to trigger an immune response that was meant to protect people from the Variola virus, the one that causes smallpox.
Doctors used a bifurcated needle dipped in Vaccinia solution. Then, each individual’s arm was poked several times. As the needle broke the skin, an amount on the vaccine was unloaded. This is why blisters formed at the vaccination area, and a scar followed after them.
A small swelling appeared, right after the application of the vaccine, that stayed there for 6-8 hours. The swelling would then disappear and the site would look normal. A swelling that looks like a mosquito bite appeared one again on the same spot after 6-8 weeks. This is when it started to grow and form a nodule. The nodule would break open and discharge fluid, forming a blister.
The entire process would take 2-5 weeks and sometimes the process of forming blisters would recur 2-3 times. This is how the scar got formed – a one that stay with the individual forever.
After the 1970s smallpox was no longer present in most of the countries int he world. Thus, a vaccination wasn’t needed unless someone wanted to travel to countries where there were still traces of the virus. After 1980, the Variola virus was officially regarded to have been eradicated from the world’s population.
Smallpox is a viral infectious disease that causes severe skin rash and fever. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 3 out of 10 people died from the virus during the most significant smallpox outbreaks in the 20th century, while many others remained disfigured. Fortunately, researchers have been able to create a vaccine against this virus.
A major medical achievement was the establishment of a smallpox vaccine. But a distinctive mark or scar was left behind by the vaccine. When the virus reaches this dermal layer, it starts to multiply. This leads to the development of a small, round bump known as a papule. Then the papule develops into a vesicle that looks like a blister filled with fluid. This blistered area will ultimately scab over. While this indicates what doctors usually consider to be a successful vaccination, some people may be left with a scar.
Due to the natural healing process of the body, scars like from the smallpox vaccine scar form. When the skin is injured, the body responds rapidly to repair the tissue. The result is a scar. The scar is still skin tissue, just the skin fibers are arranged in a single direction instead of various directions. It takes time for normal skin cells to grow while scar tissue can grow faster.
The smallpox scar is a small, round scar and for most people it’s lower than the skin around it. Others might have bigger scars. They can be itchy at times, and the skin around them feels tighter.
Tips For Fading a Scar
A smallpox scar treatments are similar to those for general scarring. Some tips for reducing the appearance of the scar include:
Wear sunscreen over the scar at all times. Sun exposure can cause darker and thickening of scar tissue. This may make the appearance of a smallpox vaccine more pronounced.
Applying skin-softening ointments. These may help reduce the scar’s appearance. Examples include cocoa butter, natural oils, aloe, or allium cepa (onion bulb) extract ointments. However, it has not been scientifically proven that these treatments will completely reduce the appearance of scars.
Talking to a doctor. Dermabrasion is a process that promotes healing by removing the outer layers of the skin. The results of this scar treatment method are unpredictable.
Scar revision. This is a process where the affected skin is removed and the scar is stitched back together. While this creates another scar, the new scar is ideally less noticeable.
Skin grafting. You can talk to a doctor about skin grafting. The scarred area is replaced by new, healthy skin. However, the edges of the skin around the location of the graft may seem noticeably different.