- Monkeypox infections can take several weeks to resolve.
- The lesions, which are highly infectious, can look quite different from person to person and place to place on the body.
- Here’s a simple guide for spotting monkeypox, with 8 of the most common presentations.
Monkeypox infections can look dramatically different from person to person.
During the current outbreak, many monkeypox cases have been misdiagnosed, because doctors have been surprised at how patients look.
As this disease has spread outside its endemic regions, doctors have found lesions look different from what’s been written down in textbooks and studies before.
Finally, there are some scientific journal reports that describe what this kind of monkeypox typically looks like — on different skin tones and body parts.
Here’s what we know:
Lesions can appear anywhere.
Some patients only have one, single visible lesion on their body. Others may not have any monkeypox visible at all when they test positive. It’s also possible to only get monkeypox inside areas of the body that aren’t easily seen, like the back of the mouth, or in the anus.
The lesions themselves can be infectious from the time they show up until they fully crust over and scab off the skin, revealing fresh, pinkish new flesh. It can take about about a month for a monkeypox infection to fully heal.
Being able to recognize what these lesions look like, and where to spot them, can help both doctors and patients identify how and when people may have contracted the virus. In turn, that can help identify who else may be at-risk of developing an infection.
Dr. Daniel Pastula, a professor of neurology, infectious disease and epidemiology at The University of Colorado and Colorado School of Public Health, recently investigated two critically ill monkeypox patients whose illnesses led to rare brain infections.
He told Insider it wasn’t clear exactly where those men got sick, or how, but it’s clear that “these cases aren’t randomly happening — meaning there is some sort of contact with someone who has monkeypox. And it’s a close thing,” whether the interaction is sexual or not.
Close contact may include “things like kissing, or things like being very close to someone for a fairly long time,” he added. “Sharing drink cups” and “really close face to face contact” are also risk factors, he said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a helpful guide for how to lower your risk of getting monkeypox during sex, and at social gatherings.
Supply of the vaccine being distributed to counter monkeypox infections, Jynneos, has been ramping up in recent weeks across the US. If you are in an at-risk group and haven’t been infected yet, you may be able to get a free vaccine by contacting your local health department or a nearby sexual health clinic.