Cutaneous reactions reported after Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination: A registry-based study of 414 cases

Devon E. McMahon, Erin Amerson, Misha Rosenbach, Jules B. Lipoff, Danna Moustafa, Anisha Tyagi, Seemal R. Desai, Lars E. French, Henry W. Lim, Bruce H. Thiers, George J. Hruza, Kimberly G. Blumenthal, Lindy P. Fox, Esther E. Freeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

600 Scopus citations


Background: Cutaneous reactions after messenger RNA (mRNA)-based COVID-19 vaccines have been reported but are not well characterized. Objective: To evaluate the morphology and timing of cutaneous reactions after mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Methods: A provider-facing registry-based study collected cases of cutaneous manifestations after COVID-19 vaccination. Results: From December 2020 to February 2021, we recorded 414 cutaneous reactions to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna (83%) and Pfizer (17%). Delayed large local reactions were most common, followed by local injection site reactions, urticarial eruptions, and morbilliform eruptions. Forty-three percent of patients with first-dose reactions experienced second-dose recurrence. Additional less common reactions included pernio/chilblains, cosmetic filler reactions, zoster, herpes simplex flares, and pityriasis rosea-like reactions. Limitations: Registry analysis does not measure incidence. Morphologic misclassification is possible. Conclusions: We report a spectrum of cutaneous reactions after mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. We observed some dermatologic reactions to Moderna and Pfizer vaccines that mimicked SARS-CoV-2 infection itself, such as pernio/chilblains. Most patients with first-dose reactions did not have a second-dose reaction and serious adverse events did not develop in any of the patients in the registry after the first or second dose. Our data support that cutaneous reactions to COVID-19 vaccination are generally minor and self-limited, and should not discourage vaccination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Dermatology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Moderna
  • Pfizer
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • chilblains
  • delayed hypersensitivity
  • delayed inflammatory reaction
  • delayed large local reaction
  • dermatology
  • erythema multiforme
  • erythromelalgia
  • filler
  • local injection site reaction
  • mRNA
  • morbilliform
  • pernio
  • pityriasis rosea
  • public health
  • registry
  • shingles
  • urticaria
  • vaccine
  • vaccine reaction
  • vasculitis
  • vesicular
  • zoster

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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