Can Vitamin b12 Injections Cause Nasty Rashes?

Dr David Eccleston
By Dr David Eccleston

Dr. Eccleston has over 20 years of experience using Anti-Wrinkle Injections and other injectables, including dermal fillers.


This is a case report highlighting an unusual presentation of a woman suffering from acne-like symptoms potentially associated with high levels of Vitamin B12.

The patient, a 38-year-old woman, visited MediZen (a cosmetic clinic based in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham) to be screened for a clinical trial on the use of Lustre Blue Light therapy for the treatment of active acne.

The woman presented with a florid, red, spotty and pustular rash over her face, neck and shoulders.

Upon taking a history, the woman, who had not suffered from acne before, had recently received 3 weekly injections of vitamin B12, administered privately by a nurse in a local beauty salon without any screening for vitamin B12 deficiency. She developed the rash soon after and has also suffered from mild scarring. Improvement was noted within one month after the prescription of topical ZO Retamax (as indicated in the before and after photographs below).

Rash Caused by a Vitamin B12
Rash Caused by a Vitamin B12

The appearance of a pustular/papular rash associated with high levels of Vitamin B12 is well described in the medical literature even though the exact mechanism appears to be unknown.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that must be ingested daily and absorbed effectively by the digestive tract in order to maintain optimal health.

Most people get enough vitamin B12 by eating a variety of foods. Those that naturally contain vitamin B12 include lean red meats, poultry, fish, brewer’s yeast, and dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.

Vitamin B12 is also added to some breakfast cereals, breads, and other fortified food products.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is most common in people who have a disease or condition in which the body is unable to absorb vitamin B12 from ingested foods. Less commonly, vitamin B12 deficiency results from an inadequate intake of foods that contain vitamin B12.

Symptoms associated with vitamin B12 deficiency include fatigue and lack of energy (due to anemia), and depression, psychosis and even dementia.

Injections of Hydroxocobalamin 1mg/ampoule, which is a prescription-only medicine, are used to treat people with symptoms associated with vitamin B 12 deficiency after they have been diagnosed via a blood test.

Can Vitamin b12 Injections Cause Nasty Rashes?

In recent months the use of vitamin B12 injections have been featured in the popular press:  “The 60p injection that can boost your flagging energy”

“How to get a bikini body like Lea Michele: The Glee star's weight loss secrets revealed”; where Madonna, Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake have also admitted regularly having the vitamin boost and where injections are said to aid weight loss because they increase energy levels and boost the metabolism.

Also, a bizarre video was posted online and featured in the daily mail where the Australian “supermodel” Mandy Kerr is seen administering a vitamin B12 injection to a celebrity photographer.

How to help with B12 deficiency

A quick search on the internet revealed clinics offering private treatments for people who have not necessarily been diagnosed as being vitamin B12 deficient:

“$30 for Five Week Wellness Package with Vitamin B6 and B12 Injections at Fit Medical Weight Loss ($150 Value)”

Here is a London based clinic offering “Vita Boost injection injections of vitamins B12 into the body, helping keep energy levels up as well as general well being. General tiredness, irritability, sleeplessness, anxiety are just a few of the symptoms of today’s Modern Living. A course of 6 injections is required and each injection needs to be administered every 2 – 4 weeks”.

Although there is little evidence to show that people with normal levels of vitamin B12 (also known as Cobalamin) will receive health benefits (either through increased energy or weight loss) associated with injections of Hydroxocobalamin, it is clear that the popular press and private clinics private clinics promoting treatments is resulting in more people receiving these injections.

As a result, GP’s and private cosmetic clinics may see more patients presenting with distressing acne like side effects that can be associated with this potential new fad. 

If you want to read more, the experts at Consulting Room really know what they're talking about and have put together some  Vitamin B12 and Acne treatment FAQs just for you. 

If you have more questions, you can use the Vitamin B12 treatment or acne treatment questions feature to talk to our panel of trained medical experts. 

If you're keen to get started with acne treatment right away then you're in luck - those clever folks also have a list of trusted, accredited Acne clinics and Vitamin B12 treatment clinics in your area.

Many thanks to the author of this blog Dr. David Eccleston and I am the Clinical Director of MediZen.

Dr David Eccleston created MediZen the Midlands Premier Aesthetic Clinic. in 1999 alongside his wife Annie. He was one of the first doctors in the country to offer injectables and his experience has led him to be recognized as 'Aesthetic Doctor of the Year' and ‘Tatler's 'Man in the Midlands' for aesthetic injectables.

They are CQC and Save Face registered so safety is at the heart of their clinic. They take pride in the quality of their service and you can be sure that ethics come before profit.

Thanks to the author

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