Dermatologist Shares How To Care For Your Skin During And After Monkeypox - Exclusive

The last few years have been stressful for the world as we've dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic. Living through a pandemic was stressful, with Massachusetts General Hospital finding there may be long-term impacts due to the constant tension we were put under as the COVID-19 virus raged on. The study found that the chronic stress associated with living through a pandemic could lead to exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, and even post-traumatic stress symptoms like nightmares and flashbacks.

Living through a global pandemic is no joke and just when the world started to return back to normal — at least as normal as possible — another virus became prevalent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, monkeypox — a virus in the same family as smallpox — is rare but currently infecting people around the world.

There are several questions surrounding the virus that we are not so familiar with. An expert recently gave us the details on how to care for your skin if you come down with the virus.

Monkeypox symptoms can vary

Monkeypox is a virus that is contracted through skin-to-skin contact, the Mayo Clinic reports. While rare, the virus is currently spreading across the world. Symptoms of monkeypox will begin showing within five to 21 days after being exposed.

The symptoms of monkeypox impact your skin predominantly. Skin rash and lesions are the most prevalent issue when the virus is contracted, but you may also come down with a fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms. These effects can linger for up to two to four weeks.

There is some confusion about how the virus spreads. Many believe it is sexually transmitted, and while it can be, you are much more likely to catch it from direct contact with rashes and scabs. You may also get it from four hours or more of direct contact with respiratory droplets from someone who has the virus.

While monkeypox does not spread as rapidly as COVID-19 and only leads to death in rare cases, some events are being canceled as a result of the virus (via CNN).

If you come down with the illness, caring for your skin is key to both making yourself feel comfortable and healing properly. 

An expert weighs in on how to care for your skin if you come down with the virus

Elizabeth Mullans, M.D., who is a board-certified dermatologist at Uptown Dermatology in Houston, Texas, has exclusively told The List her tips and tricks for caring for your skin during and after a bout with monkeypox.

Her tip is crucial. While you may be tempted to squeeze your skin during the healing process, you have to resist. "It's important not to pick or squeeze the skin lesions to avoid scarring, but more importantly, to avoid spreading of the virus," Dr. Mullans shares. "Petroleum products like Aquaphor can help soothe the skin while having the infection, and once the skin is fully healed, products with glycolic acid or salicylic acid can help to reduce scarring."

She also suggests gentle care for your skin during the infection, even down to what you're washing your clothes in. "It's important to be as gentle with the skin as possible, so in order to avoid further skin irritation, make sure you are using sensitive skin products around the home such as the Arm & Hammer Sensitive Skin detergent," she recommended.