Treatment Options

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.

I’m in Too Much Pain/Discomfort and Need Treatment.

For more severe cases of monkeypox, healthcare providers may prescribe supportive treatment for symptom management. Treatment options depend on the patient’s unique situation, so it will look different from person to person. 

In Canada, gabapentin and codeine have been used to help those with pain, and hydroxyzine and oral lidocaine have been used for swelling and oral pain. These supportive options do not work for everyone, and some patients have been prescribed stronger pain control. 

Personal care of monkeypox may include; 

  • Keeping lesions clean and dry; showering as normal. 
  • Avoiding itching or disruption of lesions, if possible. 
  • Covering lesions to prevent transmission of secretions to clothes, linen etc. 
  • Using a breathable bandage/gauze
  • No need to add ointments/antibiotic creams
  • Ice packs may support itch/discomfort
  • Taking pain control as needed (Advil/Tylenol)

You can talk to your health care provider about these and other options. 

Make sure you communicate with your provider your level of pain discomfort, reminding them that original descriptions around the low severity of monkeypox have been updated to reflect much more painful experiences of monkeypox in the current outbreak. If your provider is unable to support you, request a referral to an alternative primary care provider, urgent care, or- if left with no other option- emergency department.

In rare cases, individuals with monkeypox may need hospital care for complications. Please see your health care provider if you are having worsening or new throat or rectal pain, severe fever or chills, shortness of breath or chest pain or any other symptoms that you find concerning.