Do you have monkeypox or is it just a rash?

Published on: 21 July 2022, 11:29 am IST

Monsoon can bring about many skin conditions, so how does one tell the difference between a normal rash and a monkeypox rash? An expert tells us.

monkeypox
Know the difference between a normal rash and a monkeypox rash. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Monkeypox has become a new reason for fear among the people in India after the Covid-19 outbreak belonging to the Orthopoxvirus genus in the family Poxviridae. Monkeypox is similar to smallpox, but is milder and rarely fatal in nature. So far, India has reported two cases of monkeypox. One of the key monkeypox symptoms is a rash.

How is monkeypox caused

Monkeypox is a viral zoonotic disease caused by the monkeypox virus that is transmitted between species. It is a contagious disease that spreads through close contact with an infected person or animal. Infected skin, respiratory tract, or mucous membranes can allow the monkeypox virus to enter the body.

Monkeypox rashes usually appears within 3-4 days of a fever, but it is a self-limiting illness with side effects lasting 2-4 weeks.

The symptoms of monkeypox are usually similar to those of smallpox, but less severe.

How is a monkeypox rash different from a normal rash:

Monkeypox often comes with mild symptoms but may unexpectedly turn out to be severe in many patients. People suffering from monkeypox often experience flu-like symptoms such fever, chills, fatigue, weakness, body and muscle aches, or swollen lymph nodes. However, a rash can occur frequently. They are usually red in colour and are painful flat bumps.

While monkeypox is a rash, both can happen in any part of the body. Earlier, monkeypox was identified through rashes, usually starting from the face, but in the current outbreak, rashes seem to be mostly found in the genital parts.

Also read: Monkeypox: Early signs to watch out for among kids

monkeypox symptoms
Awareness about monkeypox is important for prevention. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

People often confuse monkeypox rashes with normal rashes. Monkey pox rashes are usually filled with white fluid, which is different from a normal rash. A rash can be a bumpy, swollen part of the body or a scratchy, irritable thing on the skin. Sunburn, winter dryness, bed bugs, mites, infections, allergens, immune system disorders, and medications can all cause skin rashes.

Monkeypox can be transmitted from animals to humans or from humans to animals.

It is important that we look out for the signs to identify the type of rash before seeking any medical advice. With the right preventive measures, this can be avoided.

Monkeypox and rash prevention

* Avoid scrubbing the affected area and apply moisturizer all over the body
* Use cold compressors
* Try using gentle cleansers while bathing
* Leave the infected area exposed to the air as much as possible
* Use hydrocortisone cream or some other medications to ease the pain
* Clean yourself as often as possible with cleanser and water
* Try covering your mouth and nose with masks when in a crowded place
* Avoid contact with individuals who might be tainted with the infection
* Avoid contact with the bedding of an infected person or animal

monkeypox precautions
There are 2 cases of monkeypox in India as of now. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

The last word

The monkeypox infection in 2022 represents an important emerging disease all over the world. The side effects of monkeypox in people can be the same as those of smallpox, chickenpox, or different viral diseases for vesiculopustular rash.

Therefore, exact and quick lab diagnostics, contact isolation and tracing are important in controlling the outbreak.

Dr Ankita Baidya Dr Ankita Baidya

Dr Ankita Baidya, Consultant Infectious Disease HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka

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