People with monkeypox should follow the advice of their health care provider. Symptoms normally resolve on their own without the need for treatment. If needed, medication for pain (analgesics) and fever (antipyretics) can be used to relieve some symptoms. It is important for anyone with monkeypox to stay hydrated, eat well, and get enough sleep.
Until all lesions have healed, avoiding close skin-to-skin contact with others including refraining from sexual activity is recommended. This will help prevent the spread of monkeypox. This does not mean isolation in homes. People can go out and about as long as they are wearing a mask and all lesions are covered. If people choose to decrease the number of their contacts, they should take care of their mental health by doing things they find relaxing and enjoyable, staying connected to loved ones using technology, exercising (indoors or outdoors) if they feel well enough and can do so, and asking for support with their mental health if they need it. Check out HIM’s mental health resources, including low-barrier counselling, here.
Secondary skin infections can be serious. To avoid them, people with monkeypox should not scratch their skin and take care of the rash by cleaning their hands before and after touching lesions and keeping skin dry and uncovered (unless they are unavoidably in a room with someone else, in which case they should cover it with clothing or a breathable bandage until they are able to avoid contact again). The rash can be kept clean with sterilized water or antiseptic. Saltwater rinses can be used for lesions in the mouth, and warm baths with baking soda and Epsom salts can help with lesions on the body. Lidocaine or ice packs can be applied to oral and perianal lesions to relieve pain.
What Do I Do if I Think I Have Monkeypox?
If you have been monitoring for symptoms and suspect you have monkeypox, or if you have been in contact with someone with monkeypox, seek a health care provider for testing.
We recognize that not everyone has a family doctor or primary care provider. In British Columbia, places you might look for testing are Primary Care or Urgent Primary Care Centres (UPCCs), STI Testing and Treatment Clinics, and youth clinics if under age 25. In more rural locations where access to these types of services may be limited we recommend a walk-in clinic or your nearest emergency room.
For help navigating the healthcare system in BC, please call 236-688-4153 to speak to a HIM staff or volunteer. Online you can go to SmartSexResource Clinic Finder and choose monekypox testing in service menu for a provincial list of STI testing clinics.
It is possible the spaces mentioned above have implemented standard operating procedure regarding monkeypox testing and treatment. If your provider is unfamiliar with monkeypox, or considerations around testing and treatment, you can hand them HIM’s What’s Up Doc? resource.
What Does Testing for Monkeypox Entail?
Right now, testing is only being done for those who have symptoms that may be due to monkeypox,
Testing looks a little different from place to place, swabbing a pox mark is the preferred method of testing. Places like emergency rooms may do everything from a blood draw to multiple swabs or a urine test, an STI clinic or primary care may only swab a few pox marks. Wait time for results will vary depending on where you accessed testing in the province; all tests are shipped to the BC Centre for Disease Control where they are analyzed within 48 hours of arrival.