Child Immunization and a Swollen Arm

Your child's routine immunizations are meant to keep her healthy, but they are not always without some minor side effects. A mild swelling of the arm can occur after the shots, but in most cases, it is not serious. Contact your child's doctor if you have any concerns about your child's behavior or appearance following vaccinations.

A toddler about to get an immunization shot. Credit: KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

Time Frame

Swelling of the arm after a routine vaccination usually begins the first day after your child receives the shots. Most often, the swelling recedes on its own within a few days. The DTaP immunization for diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis may cause soreness and swelling for a bit longer or up to one week post-vaccination.

Home Remedy Treatment

You can make your child more comfortable after immunizations by applying a cold compress to his swollen arm. Use an ice pack covered with a cloth for safety or a cold, damp washcloth. Apply cold for 20 minutes at a time, repeating as needed.


Your child's arm swelling and residual soreness may benefit from an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Do not give aspirin. Follow your doctor's directions regarding the medications.

Monitor Condition

If your child's swollen arm does not resolve within three days of immunization -- with the exception of the DTaP injection-- call the pediatrician for advice. Redness around the injection site should also be monitored during this time; report an increase in symptoms to the doctor.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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