Did the COVID Vaccine Flare my Psoriasis and Eczema?

April 7, 2021. In line at the Woodland Community and Senior Center to receive the first Moderna vaccine dose.

The moment the needle plunged into my left arm I began to feel anxious and lightheaded. My doctors encouraged me to get the first COVID-19 vaccine available to me. That day came on April 7th.

I felt reluctant to get vaccinated for fear that my skin conditions psoriasis and eczema might flare. But getting COVID-19 sounded much worse, so I relented. Once the needle came out of my arm I knew I could not go back.

I wrote on my Everyday Health blog that I don’t like needles. I can tolerate them now, but I generally feel a bit dizzy after a needle prick. This one felt much worse than others, however. It must have shown on my face. A nurse roaming the area where those recently jabbed waited fifteen minutes stopped to check on me. “I feel a bit dizzy and woozy,” I told her. She offered a Gatorade, which I reluctantly accepted.

She first stopped to talk to the head nurse before picking up the drink. A look of concern washed over both of their faces. Soon enough, the head nurse also checked on me and told me to wait at least 20 minutes before leaving. She said it was a vasovagal response. Never heard of it, and I didn’t quite faint, but it did feel like mild panic on my part.

I just wanted to get out of there and go home to rest. Even though I still felt a bit dizzy, I left right at 20 minutes after the jab.

I felt reluctant to get vaccinated for fear that my skin conditions psoriasis and eczema might flare. But getting COVID-19 sounded much worse, so I relented.

The Skin Flares Begin

After that first Moderna dose I did feel a slight headache and soreness in my arm. But my main concern continued to be my skin. Those first hours and days I checked my skin more times than I could count. If looking at my skin every five or fifteen minutes would stop any rashes or lesions from breaking out then none would have.

Unfortunately, my skin did break out after getting that first vaccine dose.

About five days post jab eczema erupted on my arms and back. My eczema begins with generalized small goose-pimple-like bumps before progressing to larger patches. Those bumps spread to my stomach, legs, and neck quite quickly.

A few days after the eczema broke out I noticed my psoriasis starting to act up too. The most stubborn area of psoriasis I have is on my lower back and side. That area I first noticed my psoriasis worsening. My thighs, lower legs, and arms followed closely behind.

Checking in with My Doctors

Two weeks after my first COVID vaccine my skin was a mess and so was I. I quickly went into problem solving mode. Did the vaccine cause the flares as I had feared all along? Or was it my diet (eczema), coming to the end of my 12 week dose cycle (psoriasis), or insomnia (both)? Or something else completely?

Coincidentally I scheduled back to back appointment with my allergist and dermatologists fifteen days after vaccination. I looked forward to telling them about my vaccination experience and asking that burning question about the vaccine and my skin.

I can’t say for certain that the vaccine flared my psoriasis and eczema, but it’s distinctly possible and probably did contribute to the mess on my skin.

My allergist mentioned that the COVID vaccine stimulates the immune system. Since both eczema and psoriasis are both related to the immune system, it’s possible the vaccine caused the flares. She reiterated that the priority is preventing my contracting COVID-19, and that we can handle skin flares (easy for her to say!)

Not unsurprisingly, my dermatologist had a similar take on the question as the allergist. She said that stimulating the immune system with the vaccine could also stimulate eczema and psoriasis. She added that she had other patients mention flaring skin about two weeks after getting their vaccinations.

So, I can’t say for certain that the vaccine flared my psoriasis and eczema, but it’s distinctly possible and probably did contribute to the mess on my skin.

Wait and See After Second Moderna Dose

On Friday, May 7th, I received my second Moderna vaccine dose. The first forty-eight hours after the injection is a story for another blog post. The unpleasantness of it has not flared my skin so far, though. In fact, my skin is clearer now than other time in the past six months.

I did get my biologic for psoriasis two weeks ago, which may mitigate a psoriasis flare. I’m eating better overall–lessening the chance the eczema will flare up too. I’m grateful nothing noticeable has happened on my skin. And, yes, I’m checking quite often now that the side effects of the second dose have mostly worn off.

Whether or not I’ll see similar skin breakouts that I had with the first vaccine dose remains to be seen.