How to safely care for your skin during and after monkeypox


dr Hsu also notes that the lesions (occasionally there may be just one lesion) sometimes appear first on the mouth, genitals, or face, but can then spread to the hands, feet, and trunk of the body. From start to finish, the rash can last two to four weeks.

How can you tell if your rash is monkeypox?

It can be scary to wonder if a blemish you’re developing could actually be monkeypox. There has been some shared confusion, particularly on social media, about the difference between monkeypox lesions and other skin breakouts such as hives, bug bites, pimples, or any other skin rash. However, there are actually a few things that set one monkeypox lesion apart from the rest.

A contributing factor is the accompanying symptoms, which typically flare up within one to four days of the rash appearing. “Unlike insect bites, hives, or pimples, monkeypox outbreaks are typically preceded by nonspecific prodromes such as fever, chills, headache, fatigue, sore throat, myalgia, and swollen lymph nodes,” explains Dr. hsu

The other is the change that monkeypox lesions go through from beginning to end: “Bug bites, hives, and pimples don’t go through multiple developmental stages like smallpox lesions do,” says Morgana Colombo, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Reston, Virginia. (To learn more about the distinguishing features of monkeypox lesions, read here.) But remember: only a doctor can confirm a monkeypox diagnosis.

When should you see a doctor?

If you’ve had flu-like symptoms and notice lesions like the ones described above a few days later, Dr. Hsu to see a doctor to get a diagnosis. For those who don’t have symptoms if you’ve been in contact with someone who has had monkeypox, the CDC recommends that you call your doctor to find out what to do next.

“If you’ve been exposed to monkeypox, you need to monitor yourself for symptoms for 21 days,” says Dr. Gopalan. “You should then call your doctor or nurse if you notice any symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, or a rash or sores.”

How do you take care of a monkeypox rash?

When a potential breakout shows up on the skin, your immediate response might be to treat it, but Dr. Colombo says it’s important to combat this urge before you’re sure what’s causing it. “You shouldn’t try to treat the lesions at home without being seen by a doctor and tested first,” she explains.

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