Why So Many People Have A Small Scar On Their Left Arm

source: Healthline

Does someone you know (or maybe even you) have a small, roundish scar on their upper left arm? Have you ever wondered why? There’s a very interesting reason behind why some people have this scar, and it dates back a number of decades.

Beginning in the 1600s, smallpox outbreaks emerged, sometimes killing entire populations of settlers. Fortunately, the first smallpox vaccine was created in 1796, and outbreaks started becoming far less common. In 1952, health officials declared smallpox to be extinct in the United States. However, smallpox vaccines were still being commonly administered into the early 1970s.

source: CNN / Gettyimages

The smallpox vaccine was a lifesaving development, but it did leave behind a mark on many people who received it. Unlike many current vaccines, the smallpox vaccine was administered using a bifurcated (two-prong) needle. The patient receiving the vaccine was poked multiple times with the needle in order for a small amount of the virus to be delivered to the skin’s dermis. The patient would then develop an immunity to smallpox over the next days and weeks.

This method of administering the vaccine caused many patients to develop a small blister around the site of the injection. After a few weeks, the blister would pop and a scab would form. Thus, leaving hundreds of thousands of people with a small, roundish scar on their upper left arm.

Pretty interesting, huh? I had never given much thought to relatives who have this scar, but it’s fascinating to learn that such a tiny skin “imperfection” comes from a lifesaving vaccine during a time when smallpox was far more rampant. The next time you see someone with this scar, you’l know exactly why they have it!