The Latest Recommendations for Treating Monkeypox at Home

Monkeypox, like most viral infections, has no known specific treatment. However, some remedies help you feel better while you recover at home. Let's discuss some of the latest recommendations for self-treating monkeypox.

Key takeaways:
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    There are no monkeypox-approved treatments.
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    At-home treatments include rest, eating well, anti-inflammatory (NSAID) meds (e.g., ibuprofen or aspirin), Tylenol (acetaminophen), and cold-flu/allergy remedies.
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    Cover open sores.
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    Avoid scratching or popping open lesions.
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    If immunosuppressed, chat with your doctor about antiviral options.

Knowing what symptoms one may develop with monkeypox helps you to understand the types of at-home treatments to consider. Signs will vary with each individual, a person's age, exposure, and overall health and immune status.

Monkeypox symptoms and how to treat them

Generally, you may demonstrate any of the following signs:

  • Fever.
  • Aches and pains.
  • Weakness, feeling run down.
  • Swollen lymph nodes.
  • Chills.
  • Signs of a respiratory infection - cough, congestion, sore throat.

Some people develop flu-like symptoms before the onset of skin sores. In contrast, for others, the rash manifests first, and then symptoms as above arise. Finally, the rash may erupt with no other accompanying concerns.

The rash may be painful, itchy, or even blister and goes through 4 different stages before scabbing over and finally healing.

Knowing the symptoms you may face will help you determine what treatments may help you at home while recovering.

What to reach for when treating monkeypox at home

Monkeypox affects everyone differently and can take 2 to 4 weeks before full resolution. This disease, for most, remains self-limiting, with recovery occurring without intervention.

While there are no monkeypox-specific treatments, you might want to alleviate some of your symptoms with over-the-counter medications or therapies for a more pleasant recovery.

Generally, tincture of time, some TLC, rest and self-care, using NSAIDs and Tylenol, when needed, aid recovery. Keeping sores clean and covered will hopefully allow you to recover from monkeypox with minimal discomfort and debilitation.

Even if you don't have an obvious exposure to someone diagnosed with monkeypox, contact a health care provider if you show similar signs. Then consider how you feel and what treatments may be right for you while isolating yourself from others.

General considerations for treating monkeypox at home

Steps for any viral infection are warranted:

  • Make sure to get sufficient sleep.
  • Do not overextend yourself.
  • Eat healthy and ensure adequate intake, even in the face of deceased appetite.
  • Remain hydrated.
  • Isolate yourself from family, friends, and colleagues to prevent disease spread.
  • Minimize or avoid contact with pets.
  • Take needed self-care steps to preserve mental health – Consider relaxing with a good book, binge-watching your favorite or a new TV show, watching movies, and zooming with friends and family. Never struggle with mental health; ask for help when needed. Reach out to friends, family, or doctors.

Care instructions for monkeypox and skin lesions

  • Cover any open sores (lesions) or rash areas to limit environmental contamination.
  • Do not scratch or pop open any pimples or sores. This increases the risk of viral spread to others, to secondary parts of your body, and increases the viral load in the environment. Finally, open sores are at an increased risk of secondary infection by bacteria, further supporting keeping the lesions covered and not scratching them open.
  • If sores develop in areas normally shaved, do not shave until scabs fall off and healthy skin covers the area.
  • Always ensure the lesions remain clean and dry (unless showering/hand washing, then dry well).
  • Practice proper hand washing etiquette - use soap and water or alcohol-type sanitizer, especially after touching any parts of your rash.
  • Use disposable gloves or wash reusable gloves with soap and water in between use when touching common areas of your home, particularly if the rash extends to your hands. Common areas may include doorknobs, countertops, faucets, walls, or utensils.
  • Because one way the virus spreads is through respiratory droplets, not just the sores, wearing a facemask when around others until all symptoms resolve.
  • Take care when touching yourself. You don't realize how often you scratch an itch in far-off places. But you want to avoid sensitive areas like your eyes, genitals, nose, or mouth to prevent spread to those areas.

Lessen monkeypox discomfort with a few treatments

No one likes to be sick. Even knowing that you will get better with time, it can be frustrating dealing with aches and pains, itchiness, and feeling run-down. You can take a few steps to alleviate your discomfort, including

  • Commonly found over-the-counter medications (OTC) can help provide symptom relief and minimize suffering. For pain and fever reduction - NSAIDs and Tylenol.
  • Try oatmeal, Epsom salts, or baking soda baths - soothing qualities to ease skin rash, itchiness, and discomfort - but make sure to dry all lesions well after bathing.
  • For sores around your anus (butthole) or private areas, consider trying a sitz bath (a small shallow bowl that fits in your toilet to soothe and clean the area).
  • Consider saltwater rinses for any ulcerations or sores in the mouth.
  • Check with your doctor about what products are safe for you, but consider antiseptic or sterile water cleansers to keep your sores clean.
  • Topical anesthetics like benzocaine or lidocaine gel for sores in the mouth or around the anus may help lessen pain and discomfort.
  • Topical creams or lotions like calamine or petroleum jelly may also soothe sore and irritated spots.
  • Antihistamines like Benadryl or Allegra may help with itchiness.

Prescription-based therapies do they exist?

According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, despite no monkeypox-specific approved medications, antiviral drugs developed to treat other illnesses, including smallpox, an eradicated and much more deadly disease, may help here. Antiviral examples include TPOXX®, Vistide®, or Tembexa®. Talk with your doctor if these medications or immune globulin are warranted. Generally, these are reserved for immunocompromised patients or those with significant underlying diseases because monkeypox goes away over time for most people.

Keep loved ones safe

Whether you take OTC meds, lather yourself in calamine lotion, or simply tuck yourself on the couch and binge-watch TV, always practice proper hygiene. Isolate yourself from uninfected individuals around you, practice safe sex or, ideally, abstinence, and give yourself time to heal. Rest, take it easy, treat any pain or sores to remain comfortable, and contact a physician if symptoms worsen, you aren't improving, or you have any other concerns. But know that with a little self-care, most people recover from monkeypox in time.


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