Is it a Rash or Monkeypox?


A new rash on your body could be caused by several conditions. How do you know if your rash could be monkeypox? Explore the signs, symptoms, and more of this rare disease with Itasca and Naperville’s top dermatologist, Oak Dermatology.

What is Monkeypox?

Monkeypox, caused by the monkeypox virus, is a rare disease that spreads from animals to humans and rarely from humans to humans. Transmission can occur through broken skin when an animal with the virus bites or scratches a human. Human transmission can occur via respiratory droplets, such as breathing, coughing, or sneezing, as well as through contaminated materials. Few monkeypox cases have been reported in the U.S. and Europe as the disease is primarily found in tropical rainforest areas of central and west African countries.

What are the Symptoms of Monkeypox?

The timing and stages of symptoms are important when diagnosing monkeypox. The initial symptoms of monkeypox include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Muscle Aches
  • Exhaustion
  • Swollen Lymph Nodes

1-3 days after symptoms begin, a rash will typically appear on the face, then spread to other parts of the body. The body rash will go through a progression of stages in the following order:

  1. A rash will initially present as macules (flat red spots) on the skin
  2. The macules will progress to papules (tiny red bumps) on the skin
  3. The papules will begin to blister
  4. The blisters will fill with white fluid or pus
  5. Scabs will form, heal, and eventually fall off

The presentation of initial symptoms coupled with the progression and stages of the rash are important to know when discerning whether a rash could be monkeypox.

Be sure to check with your doctor if you have a suspicious body rash, which could be caused by several conditions.

What Else Could My Rash Be?

Several conditions may have a similar presentation to the rash associated with monkeypox. These include but are not limited to:

  1. Chickenpox: This rash can look like the monkeypox rash. Chickenpox is itchy and presents in similar stages to monkeypox.
  2. Insect Bites or Bedbugs: Bedbug bites typically present as itchy red lesions that appear in a line or group.
  3. Molluscum: Molluscum is a viral infection that can cause itchy, raised, red spots throughout the body. This condition is typically found in children.
  4. Shingles: Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash that commonly appears as a single stripe of blisters on one side of the torso, however, this rash can be found anywhere on the body.

How is Monkeypox Diagnosed?

Your doctor will need information regarding symptoms and symptom stages/progression. A skin sample is usually taken to accurately test for monkeypox. Those undergoing diagnosis for monkeypox may also go through tests to rule out other conditions, such as chickenpox, measles, bacterial skin infections, scabies, or smallpox. Since monkeypox can have similar symptoms to smallpox, having swollen lymph nodes is important to note, as smallpox typically does not present with this symptom.

How Do I Prevent Monkeypox?

There are a few ways you can lower your risk of getting monkeypox. Steps you can take include:

  • Avoid traveling to areas where monkeypox is reported
  • Avoid interacting with animals that may have the virus
  • Avoid touching materials potentially contaminated with the virus
  • Wash your hands well with soap and water

While there is currently no treatment for monkeypox, a vaccine is available in the event of an outbreak. Those with monkeypox will stay in isolation while the disease runs its course, which typically lasts 2-3 weeks.

Dr. Jeffrey T.S. Hsu and Dr. Ashish Bhatia recommend making an appointment with your dermatologist if you begin to develop symptoms that may resemble monkeypox. If you have questions or concerns about a possible rash or skin condition, contact the skincare experts at Oak Dermatology, Itasca and Naperville’s top dermatologist.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.