Nearly three weeks since the World Health Organization declared the monkeypox virus a public health emergency. Now, thousands are struggling with the most notable symptom of the virus – skin lesions.
“There’s a variation in presentation when you’re talking about the rash. Some people might have just one or two lesions, other people might have it more widespread where it spreads to other parts of the body,” said Dr. Jennifer Chevinsky, Deputy Public Health Officer for Riverside University Health System.
The rash can go through several stages, starting out as a pimple-like lesion with redness and progressing to blisters that can scab over. They can have varying appearances and degrees of severity.
“These lesions can be very painful, they can be itchy and so when somebody has this rash or lesion, it can be very, very uncomfortable,” said Dr. Chevinsky.
The lesions can have you longing to scratch an itch that just won’t go away, but health officials warn against it.
“If you’re trying to prevent scarring when you have the rash, one of the most important things that you can do is not scratch or pick at the lesion,” said Dr. Chevinsky. “If you scratch them, if you pick at them, it can create more inflammation and it can also lend for the opportunity for it to get infected which can also make the lesion worse.”
Health officials encourage soothing the skin with lotion or petroleum-based products.
“When it comes to any of the products that you use on your skin, you want to make sure they’re gentle, they’re fragrance-free, things like laundry detergent, body wash, lotions, so you don’t increase more inflammation in the skin,” said Dr. Chevinsky.
Monkeypox rashes take about two to four weeks to heal, new skin to develop, and scabs to fall off. Even once healed, the rashes may result in long-lasting or even permanent scarring or discoloration.
Health officials do urge those who have been exposed to monkeypox or even have just one or a few lesions to get tested.
To get tested for monkeypox, contact your healthcare provider or visit https://www.rivcoph.org/mpx/Get-Tested.