Does Monkeypox Cause Scarring?


  • Monkeypox has been declared a global health crisis by the World Health Organization.
  • One of the main symptoms of monkeypox is a rash.
  • A dermatologist explains whether the rash can cause scarring.

You may have heard about the new monkeypox outbreak on the news recently. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the virus a global health crisis, and California, New York, and Illinois have all announced states of emergency as a result. At this time, there’s still not much information out there, and many people have a lot of questions: what exactly is monkeypox? How does monkeypox spread? Should I get the monkeypox vaccine? How do I know if I have monkeypox?

The CDC has a full list of symptoms of the virus, including how it can manifest as a rash on your skin. Here’s what else you should know — including if a monkeypox rash can cause scarring, and what to do about it.

Monkeypox Rash

One of the most common symptoms of monkeypox is a rash that can be located on the hands, feet, chest, mouth, or genitals. The CDC claims that “the rash will go through several stages, including scabs, before healing,” and it can “look like pimples or blisters and may be painful or itchy.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the rash from monkeypox will start out as flat, red bumps that may be painful, then turn into pimple- or blister-like lesions filled with puss. After that, the blisters will scab over and fall out. This process can last anywhere from two to four weeks.

Does the Monkeypox Rash Cause Scarring?

Though the rash lasts two to four weeks, you may be wondering if it it has to potential to leave behind permanent scarring of any kind. “Any inflammatory skin condition can potentially scar,” Mona Gohara, MD, board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, tells POPSUGAR. “Monkey Pox, particularly the current strain, can leave permanent marks on the skin, as well.”

But that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to scar if you develop a monkeypox rash. “The best way to avoid this is early diagnosis, supportive care, and to avoid picking the lesions,” says Dr. Gohara. It can be difficult, especially if the bumps are itchy, but leaving the bumps or skin alone is key. “Any form of manipulation can stoke the fire making inflammation worse. Avoid DIY topicals and non-prescription medications such as antihistamine creams. Their benefit in this context is minimal and may just make things worse.”

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