How Do I Take Care of Myself If I Test Positive?
If you are having symptoms of mpox, there are ways to take care of yourself using over-the-counter or prescribed medications, items bought at the store, or practices you can maintain while you are infectious.
- First, isolate yourself from others and pets until your lesions have healed over with new skin and your symptoms have resolved.
- Avoid itching and touching your lesions. If you touch them, wash your hands well with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. You can also use medical grade gloves (as opposed to Vinyl gloves which tear more easily) for touching the lesions when applying topical pain relief, bathing, etc. After you touch your lesions don’t touch any other part of your body and throw the glove away. It is possible to spread lesions from one part of your body to another. While having lesions you should NOT use contacts or shave the areas that have lesions.
- Cover your lesions with bandaids if you expect to come into contact with others or leave the home. Using a little petroleum jelly under the bandage may help you scar less.
- Clean commonly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, remotes, etc. with a disinfecting spray or wipe. For fabric surfaces that come into contact with lesions such as couches and chairs, spray with a mist disinfecting spray such as Lysol.
- Use disposable paper towels after washing your hands instead of hand towels. Only use a towel once and then put it in the wash. Even better, use a paper towel to dry areas with lesions.
- Wash your sheets often with hot water and detergent, especially if your lesions are uncovered while you sleep. Wearing pajamas can help cover your lesions while you sleep and prevent transmission to bedding.
- To reduce itching take an Epsom salt bath or use Domeboro in a warm bath to help with itchiness and assist in healing your lesions. Use a fan on sores when you get done soaking. Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and calamine lotion can also help reduce itchiness.
- To help with pain and reduce fever use ibuprofen, acetaminophen (Tylenol), or Naproxen. Contact your health provider if more pain relief is needed. Lidocaine is a common over-the-counter anesthetic that can numb pain by blocking the signals at the nerve endings in the skin. Aspercreme Lidocaine spray works well for non-genital mpox. Proctofoam can be used for rectal pain. A cream or gel-based lidocaine can be used for genital sores.
- To reduce constipation or pain with defecation use stool softeners such as Docustate (Colace) and drink plenty of water.
- Use a salter water rinse or ask your healthcare provider about “magic mouthwash” to reduce swelling and pain from oral lesions.
- Stay hydrated, rest, and use a mask when being around others for prolonged periods of time (3+ hours).