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Arm Scars (do many japanese have them?) 2008/5/29 03:04
hi guys. thanks for checking this out...

so im in the U.S. and my gf is japanese. she has a few small scar patterns on both of her upper arms. she said she got them when she was young and most japanese have them unless they are really super healthy. now she has a little trouble explaining in english so im still sort of curious...anybody have some insight...thanks again
by a robot  

... 2008/5/29 12:02
If they are 6 or so dots in a grid pattern they may be the scars from the Tuberculosis vaccine. I've met some people who got pretty bad scars from this, but the younger generations don't seem to have them.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

tuberculosis vaccination scar 2008/5/29 12:43
Almost certainly they are from the TB vaccination as above. People over about 35 tend to have the older single larger scar from the older scrape vaccination, whereas younger people will have the pattern of dots.

I have seen recently vaccinated babies with the same pattern on their arms, as well as elementary school age kids with scars, so younger people definitely have them as well.

It has nothing to do with one's level of health- some people are just more likely to scar than others, usually a genetic thing. Nothing to be concerned about.

Ask her if it's anything to do with "kekkaku" (j, TB in Japanese)- she will probably say yes if she's familiar with the term.
by Sira rate this post as useful

... 2008/5/29 13:08
I have seen recently vaccinated babies with the same pattern on their arms, as well as elementary school age kids with scars, so younger people definitely have them as well.

Yea they're definitely there but they don't seem to keloid like older people's vaccination scars. I had heard that they changed something with the vaccine in recent years that makes for significantly less scaring, but perhaps that was referring to the switch from the scrape to the grid pattern method.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

BCG 2008/5/29 13:25
Ask her if it's anything to do with "kekkaku" (Y, TB in Japanese)- she will probably say yes if she's familiar with the term.

I think many people are not very familiar with the wordBacille de Calmette et Gurin kekkaku, especially when it comes to vaccination.
Asking the OP's friend with the word "BCG" might be easier to get the answer. ;)
(BCG came from a French term "Bacille de Calmette et Guerin" and is commonly used.)

to OP:
Here you can see the photo of the tool for BCG vaccination.
If her "scar" is small 18 dots (you see the 18 needles in the photo), it surely is from BCG shot.
by . rate this post as useful

BCG 2008/5/29 15:10
If it's BCG, people in about their 50s and older usually have about 4 marks, each about 1 centimeter (half inch) in diameter. These remain as keloids.

People now in their 40s or younger have 18 tiny dots instead. This was designed so that they won't remain as keloids, and they hurt less when you get vaccinated. Fresh vaccination marks tend to appear in purple lumps, but as you grow, they turn into skin-color dots. You can hardly notice them on most adults, but some are more recognizable than others.

All people who were registered residents in Japan in their infant days (including those who aren't Japanese) have at least one in one arm. Until the year 2005, you were supposed to get 3 tuberculin tests in total before you reach the age 15. Those who got a negative reaction needed to get a new vaccination. So I suppose the girl is right in a way that those who are "super healthy" only gets it in one arm, although negative reactions don't really mean you're "sick".

According to Wikipedia Japanese version, people around the world are vaccinated against tuberculosis, but Japan is about the only country that uses "stamps" which produce the 18 dots. Scroll down the following site to see a photo of the stamp.

by Uco rate this post as useful

people with just one scar 2008/5/29 18:33
Uco, my Japanese husband is 37, and has a single round scar from the vaccine, which is what older people in my country have, and I have Japanese friends about the same age with the same kind of scar- I have never seen the 4 scar pattern. Was there a stage when they just did a single scrape like they did in my country?

They stopped vaccinating for TB in NZ when I was about 12, and the vaccination was given to 13 year-olds, so I escaped any kind of arm scar.
by Sira rate this post as useful

... 2008/5/29 20:08
I'm in my early 40s and I have one single round scar on my upper arm - I remember it as "BCG," I think that's what they used to call it in school when they gave the vaccine.

I agree with Uco, I think what your girlfriend meant to say is that they initially checked the "tuberculin" (tsuberukurin, for the Japanese among the posters) reaction and if you came out negative, you got the shot, and no shot if you came out positive..... that sort of thing. But actually, whether you have scar left or not has nothing to do with one's health. I think everyone gets this scar, though the exact shape might depend on their age :)
by AK (Japanese) rate this post as useful

I'm no medical expert but... 2008/5/29 20:27
My understanding is that the single lump almost on the shoulder part of your arm is a smallpox vaccination (shutou 퓗). I have one too as well as the 18 dots BCG, and I'm 46 btw. Smallpox vaccination became no longer compulsary since 1976.

Hmm, now that I think about it, the 4 round keloids may be the old version of smallpox vaccination. Anyway, I'm sure your husband's parents have the 4 round vaccination scars, Sira. I wonder what the old version of BCG looked like, then??

So multiple keloids that old people have, one lump that middle age people have, and 18 dots that middle age to younger people have are all scars from compulsory vaccination done in Japan, whatever they were for. This I am quite certain of.
by Uco rate this post as useful

scars etc. 2008/5/29 21:14
The round one is the only scar my husband has- I suppose it could be smallpox, but if so he has no TB scar!

My parents also have the same shaped scar, and they told me it was TB. To my knowledge, the smallpox vaccine hasn't been given in NZ for many decades.

Does anyone think I should be vaccinated for TB, since I live in Japan? Are there many cases of it still here?
by Sira rate this post as useful

TB 2008/5/29 23:03
My BGC scar is hardly recognizable. Being on this thread, I looked at it this afternoon, and now that it's nighttime, I can't even figure out where it was.

Off topic, our city of Yokohama is now enjoying "Africa Month" welcoming the 4th TICAD, the convention to improve the situations of African countries.

Lots of NGOs have been giving exhibitions and among them was a group to prevent TB. I asked them what ordinary citizens like me can do to help. They said that by simply talking to others, I'm already helping to prevent the spreading of TB.

So I'm telling you guys. TB is not dead. It is extremely rare now, but still exists. So if you're suffering from coughs for more than a week, be sure you see the doctor. In case you have TB, this will prevent it from spreading or making it serious.

If you're worried about not having vaccinated before, why not simply ask your local doctor or hokenjo (public health center) for a "tsuberukurin" test. The doctor can take care of the rest.
by Uco rate this post as useful

i see! 2008/5/30 01:54
wow. thanks alot everyone for all the info.. now i totally remember her saying BCG..and i was like huhh? interesting...pretty sure we get TB vaccinations in the US but no scarring...
by OP rate this post as useful

Not required in US 2008/6/19 18:24
Actually, the TB shot is not required in the US. I have been researching to decide if my 5 month old should have the shot. We live in Budapest, Hungary and it is required for babies here, but we have the option.

The studies I read seem to indicate that it is not required because of the lack of definitive results on its effectiveness.

A shot that does not leave a scar was invented, but I read somewhere else that they don't make that version anymore. Not sure if that's true or not.

At any rate, for now we are opting to leave our baby scarless, at least from this one.

Just to let you know that you probably did not receive the injection (depending on your age...I'm 30 and did not have it) Therefore, no scar.
by Budapest rate this post as useful

Oh, so thats why. 2008/6/20 07:31
Oh my god, my boyfriend has those too. I noticed them for the first time last week and freaked out a little bit. I actually thought he had some type of sickness(seeing a bunch of circles in a pattern on someone's skin wasn't exactly normal to me..).

He said he had them as long as he could remember. Hmm, very interesting.
Kind of curious to why not many Americans have such scarring.
by niko-chan rate this post as useful

Most likely because... 2008/6/20 08:03
Most Americans are either not vaccinated against TB (it's questionable whether it's still necessary in a developed country), or the skin test/ vaccine they received was a different type (the scrape as opposed the the one that leaves the dots).

Just curious, what kind of illness did you imagine caused such regularly-spaced scars? The first time I saw it I assumed it was from either a burn, or some kind of vaccination. The second one turned out to be right.
by SHU rate this post as useful

my bcg is a bit different. 2008/6/20 21:59
maybe british bcgs are a little different. i hsd mine, probably about 10 years ago. it was a small circle of 6 needles which was done on the forearm. no scar was left from this.

then there was a follow up one done a week later on the upper arm, and that does normally leave a scar, though it is just a single mark, somewhat like a pale insect bite
by Shadow Jan rate this post as useful

! 2008/7/11 05:01
I was wondering this myself. I noticed a lot of that kind of scarring on my trip to japan. I remember looking it up online for hours with no luck of finding an answer. thanks for all the info
by boston eric rate this post as useful

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