Smallpox is a viral and infectious disease that causes a significant amount of skin rash and fever.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has stated that 3 out of 10 people across the world were affected by smallpox during the 20th century.
At one stage, researchers were able to create a vaccine to fight against the smallpox virus. The vaccine contains a live virus, but it is not a contagious one. Instead, it is the vaccinia virus. Based on this, the human body starts building up antibodies to fight smallpox.
In 1952, doctors in the United States declared the smallpox virus as extinct, and later in 1972, the United States even stopped smallpox vaccines as a part of the routine vaccinations.
Although the smallpox vaccine’s creation was a significant medical achievement, the vaccine left behind a noticeable mark.
How did the vaccine work?
Unlike other vaccines, the smallpox vaccine is delivered uniquely. The smallpox vaccine is given using a special needle. Instead of the one-time skin puncture, the doctor will make multiple skin punctures on the dermis. The dermis is right under the epidermis that is visible to the world.
In this case, the vaccination does not penetrate into the subcutaneous tissue. Upon reaching the dermal layer, the virus starts to multiply, causing a pimple to develop, which later turns into a vesicle, which looks like a fluid-filled blister. Eventually, this area will scab over. This signals the completion of a successful vaccination, but unfortunately, the vaccination leaves a mark for some people.
Why did scarring occur?
Scars of the smallpox vaccine are usually a result of the human body’s healing process. What happens is, when the skin is punctured, the body’s immune system responds and repairs the punctured tissues. Based on the skin cells’ different arrangement, the skin area tends to show a scar.
In most cases, the scar is small, round, and lower than the skin bump around it. Some people have complained of itchy and tight skin around the spot. This action is a natural result of scar tissue development.
According to the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, out of the thousands of workers who received a smallpox vaccination in 2003, not many have had a post-vaccination scar. Those who experienced the fault were able to see a visible mark about 65 days after the vaccination.