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Mpox (monkeypox) rash: Dermatologists’ tips for treating your skin

Warning: Beware of products, including natural remedies sold to cure or prevent mpox (formerly known as monkeypox)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the JYNNEOS® vaccine for preventing mpox. It is the only vaccine approved in the U.S. for this purpose. However, you may see other products that come with a claim that they can cure or prevent mpox.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers that:

  • The FDA has not reviewed any of these products or natural remedies sold to treat, cure, or prevent mpox.

  • These products and remedies, often sold online, have not been found safe or effective for treating mpox or other health conditions.

To protect your health, only use mpox treatment prescribed by your board-certified dermatologist or other medical doctor.

People use different terms to describe the spots that can develop from mpox (monkeypox), including rashes, bumps, lesions, and skin spots. These tips cover all these terms.

The mpox virus causes a rash. One or more rashes can appear anywhere on your body. However, during the current outbreak, many people have developed rashes on their genitals (penis, testicles, vulva, or vagina), anus, face, or mouth.1-4

If you have mpox, it is important to take care of your skin while you have one or more skin spots. Here are some tips from dermatologists that can help your skin heal properly and minimize scaring:

While you have mpox rashes on your skin

  • Don’t scratch the rash, skin spots, or scabs! Take warm baths to help soothe your skin and keep your fingernails short to help prevent a skin infection caused by scratching.5,6

    If you have a rash on your genitals or around your anus, you can ease discomfort by taking sitz baths. One way to take a sitz bath is to sit in a clean bathtub of shallow, warm water. You can also buy a device called a sitz bath. Available online or at drug stores, this device is a shallow basin that you fill with warm water and place in your bathtub or over the rim of a toilet.

    Applying cool compresses can also help soothe a rash on your genitals or around your anus. To make a cool compress, run a clean washcloth under cool tap water. Wring out the excess water. Then apply the damp washcloth to the itchy area. Leave the washcloth on your skin for a few minutes.

  • Wash your skin with a mild soap and water.9 Use a mild soap like one made for sensitive skin.

    Don’t share towels, washcloths, or other bath linens with people. Sharing unwashed towels, other bath linens, and clothing can spread mpox to others.

  • Help your skin heal by keeping the skin spots moist. Dermatologists recommend applying petroleum jelly or a fragrance-free ointment that contains petrolatum.

    When applying the ointment, use a product that comes in a squeeze tube or bottle. You want to avoid dipping your fingers into a container, as that can transfer germs that may be in the container to your skin spots.

  • Keep all skin spots covered. After applying ointment, place an adhesive bandage or non-stick gauze over the skin spots. When using non-stick gauze, keep the bandage in place with paper tape or a similar breathable, lightweight tape. Keeping spots covered helps prevent spreading the skin spots to other parts of your body and to other people. Once all scabs have fallen off and a fresh layer of skin has formed, you no longer need to cover the skin spots.

  • Use an antiseptic or anti-bacterial medication only if your physician includes this in your treatment plan. These medications are only needed if skin spots become infected.5,9-15

  • Look for signs of infection. These signs can include pus, discoloration (red or pink on lighter skin tones and purple, gray, or white on darker skin tones), or the area feeling warm to the touch. If you think one or more of your skin spots have become infected, get immediate medical care.

After the mpox skin spots heal

  • You may be able to prevent scars. If you’re concerned about scars, talk with a board-certified dermatologist about using a silicone-based gel or patch. This can help minimize scarring.10,16

  • Protect your skin from the sun. This helps prevent discoloration from developing on your skin.10 After the skin spots have healed, protect your skin from the sun by applying a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher.

  • Scarring can be treated. If you have scarring and would like to discuss treatment options, consult a board-certified dermatologist. The American Academy of Dermatology’s Find a Dermatologist tool can be accessed here: https://find-a-derm.aad.org/

If you have a rash or bump on your skin and you don’t know what caused it, see a board-certified dermatologist. Find one in your area at aad.org/findaderm.

Related AAD resources

Additional resources

For more information about mpox, visit the CDC website for mpox at: www.cdc.gov/mpox.

Infographic – Mpox rash: Dermatologists’ tips for treating your skin

Click the image below to download the AAD’s infographic for tips from dermatologists that can help your skin heal properly and minimize scaring.

Infographic provides dermatologists’ tips to help you care for your skin when you have a monkeypox rash and reduce scarring after the rash clears.

Mpox rash: Dermatologists’ tips for treating your skin

This webpage is also available as an infographic. (PDF)

Download infographic

1. Monkeypox: Signs and Symptoms. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of High-Consequence Pathogens and Pathology (DHCPP). www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/symptoms.html. Accessed August 22, 2022.

2. Bragazzi NL, Kong JD, Mahroum N, et al. Epidemiological trends and clinical features of the ongoing monkeypox epidemic: A preliminary pooled data analysis and literature review. J Med Virol. 2022.

3. Srivastava G, Srivastava G. Human Monkeypox Disease. Clin Dermatol. 2022.

4. Safer Sex, Social Gatherings, and Monkeypox. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Website. www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/sexualhealth/index.html. Accessed August 23, 2022[PL1] .

5. Reynolds MG, McCollum AM, Nguete B, Shongo Lushima R, Petersen BW. Improving the Care and Treatment of Monkeypox Patients in Low-Resource Settings: Applying Evidence from Contemporary Biomedical and Smallpox Biodefense Research. Viruses. 2017;9(12).

6. How to Care for a Child with Chickenpox. American Academy of Dermatology. www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/itchy-skin/rash/chicken-pox. Accessed August 22, 2022.

7. Genital Ulcers. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/23320-genital-ulcers. Accessed August 22, 2022.

8. Roett MA, Mayor MT, Uduhiri KA. Diagnosis and management of genital ulcers. Am Fam Physician. 2012;85(3):254-262.

9. Hunt SC, Azad S. ABCDEFGHI Systematic Approach to Wound Assessment and Management. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2022;35(7):366-374.

10. Meaume S, Le Pillouer-Prost A, Richert B, Roseeuw D, Vadoud J. Management of scars: updated practical guidelines and use of silicones. Eur J Dermatol. 2014;24(4):435-443.

11. Jourdan M, Madfes DC, Lima E, Tian Y, Seité S. Skin Care Management For Medical And Aesthetic Procedures To Prevent Scarring. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2019;12:799-804.

12. Proper wound care: How to minimize a scar. American Academy of Dermatology www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/injured-skin/burns/wound-care-minimize-scars. Accessed August 22, 2022.

13. Ogawa R. The Most Current Algorithms for the Treatment and Prevention of Hypertrophic Scars and Keloids: A 2020 Update of the Algorithms Published 10 Years Ago. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2022;149(1):79e-94e.

14. Powers JG, Higham C, Broussard K, Phillips TJ. Wound healing and treating wounds: Chronic wound care and management. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2016;74(4):607-625; quiz 625-606.

15. Bolton LL, Faller N, Kirsner RS. Herpes Zoster (Shingles) Patient-Centered Wound Outcomes: A Literature Review. Adv Skin Wound Care. 2021;34(5):239-248.

16. Gold MH, McGuire M, Mustoe TA, et al. Updated international clinical recommendations on scar management: part 2 – algorithms for scar prevention and treatment. Dermatol Surg. 2014;40(8):825-831.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “Illegally sold monkeypox products.” Content current as of 1/31/2023. Last accessed 2/20/2023.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “JYNNEOS.” Page last updated 9/2/2022. Last accessed 2/23/2023.

Written by:
American Academy of Dermatology

Reviewed by:
Terrence A. Cronin Jr., MD, FAAD
Esther Ellen Freeman, MD, PhD, FAAD
George J. Hruza, MD, MBA, FAAD
Toby A. Maurer, MD, FAAD
J. Klint Peebles, MD, FAAD
Adrian O. Rodriguez, MD, FAAD
Misha Rosenbach, MD, FAAD

Last updated: 2/28/23