How Mpox Is Treated

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

Mpox (formerly known as monkeypox) is a disease similar to smallpox. It is self-limited (resolves without treatment), usually lasting two to four weeks. Most people with mpox get better without treatment.

Currently, there is no specific treatment approved for mpox virus infection. The treatment is focused on managing symptoms such as headaches, fever, chills, muscle aches, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, and a chicken pox–like rash that can develop on the hands, feet, face, chest, mouth, tongue, genitals, or anus.

Mpox rarely causes death, but complications such as vomiting and diarrhea may require supportive care to prevent dehydration. Some people may also require treatment for rare eye complications such as blepharitis (infection of the eyelid) or conjunctivitis ("pink eye").

This article explains how mpox is currently treated, including self-care, over-the-counter (OTC) medications, and prescription drugs. It also explores which complementary and alternative therapies may be useful in supporting standard treatments.

Monkeypox rash


Home Remedies and Self-Care

The symptoms of mpox can vary from one person to the next. Some people experience flu-like symptoms before the outbreak of rash, some get the rash first followed by symptoms, and others get only the rash.

The main approach to resolving the flu-like symptoms of mpox is rest. Most people who get mpox will experience fatigue and lethargy and will benefit from many of the same self-care treatments for flu, namely getting plenty of rest and plenty of fluids.

The mpox rash may be difficult to deal with because it can be extremely painful. Even after the blistering rash starts to heal, many people will experience intense itching and find it hard to resist scratching.

Do Not Scratch

You must never pop, scratch, or pick at an mpox rash. Doing so can lead to scarring and secondary bacterial infection (in which the ruptured skin allows bacteria access to vulnerable underlying tissues).

To better cope with the mpox rash and reduce pain, itching, and the risk of infection, try the following:

  • Apply a cold compress or a cold cloth to the sores to reduce inflammation and pain.
  • Use a sitz bath (sitting in a shallow pan of warm water) to soothe and clean sores on the genitals or anus.
  • If you have mouth sores, sipping ice water or sucking on ice chips can help relieve pain.
  • Rinsing with salt water and/or baking soda can reduce inflammation and help mouth sores heal faster.
  • Wear light clothing and undergarments to avoid the buildup of moisture and heat that can add to the discomfort and promote bacterial growth.
  • Trim your nails and wear soft cotton gloves or mittens if you find yourself scratching at night.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, which can transmit the virus to your eyelid or the lining of your eye.
  • Keep the open sores covered when around others to avoid the spread of infection. But don't cover them with bandages as this can increase moisture and interfere with healing.

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medications

Certain OTC medications may be helpful in managing the rash, flu-like symptoms, and other complications of mpox infection, including:


There are no drugs approved or licensed for the treatment of mpox virus. However, because mpox is closely related to smallpox, an antiviral drug called TPOXX (tecovirimat) may be used off-label in people with severe infections or at increased risk of complications.

People at risk include children (especially those under age 8), people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and immunocompromised people (such as those with untreated human immunodeficiency virus, HIV). People with atopic dermatitis (the most common form of eczema) or other chronic skin conditions may also be candidates for treatment.

TPOXX is delivered in capsule form and taken by mouth twice daily for 14 days with a high-fat meal. Side effects include headache, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting.

Do I Need TPOXX?

Most people with mpox do not require TPOXX. The drug is currently under investigation, and it is not yet known what long-term risks the drug may pose to people with mpox.

If you are prescribed TPOXX, you will be asked to sign a consent form stating you understand TPOXX is an investigational drug (still being researched) and not yet licensed for the treatment of mpox.

Other prescription drugs may be used to treat complications of mpox, such as secondary bacterial infections and eye infections. This may involve:

Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Treatments

Although no complementary or alternative medicines (CAMs) can alter the course of an mpox infection, certain ones may help ease symptoms or complications.

The evidence supporting the use of CAMs in treating any poxvirus infection is generally weak, but four natural compounds that may be of benefit based on research are:

  • Colloidal oatmeal: This is an age-old remedy consisting of powdered oat kernels that can be used for oatmeal baths to relieve pain and itching. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified colloidal oatmeal as a skin protectant.
  • Ginger: Whether taken as a tea, as a supplement, or as a fresh root, ginger (Zingiber officinale) is thought to relieve nausea and vomiting by blocking so-called 5-HT3 receptors in the gut. These are the receptors that transmit nerve signals to the brain that trigger emesis (vomiting).
  • Purple pitcher plant: Known as Mqo’oqewi’k by Native American tribes, the purple pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) has been used since the 19th century as a salve for pox-like rashes. A 2012 study reported that the plant did exert antiviral action against smallpox and other poxviruses.
  • Tea tree oil: This essential oil is made from the leaves of the melaleuca, or tea, tree (Melaleuca alternifolia). It contains an anti-inflammatory compound known as terpinen-4-ol that has been shown to promote the healing of skin rashes caused by the poxvirus molluscum contagiosum.


There are no approved or licensed treatments for mpox. The treatment instead is focused on managing symptoms and preventing complications. Most mpox infections will resolve on their own within two to four weeks.

People with severe symptoms or those at risk of complications may be prescribed TPOXX, a drug currently licensed for the treatment of smallpox.

A Word From Verywell

The outbreak of mpox in the United States in 2022 spurred alarm in hard-hit communities, particularly among men who have sex with men (MSM). While the infection can be painful and unsightly, most cases will resolve on their own without incident.

Until there is an effective treatment for mpox, your best defense may be to get the mpox vaccine if you are at risk of exposure through sex or intimate contact. If you think you've been exposed to mpox by any means, you may still benefit from vaccination. Speak with a healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long is mpox contagious?

    Mpox is contagious until the sores have fully healed. This means that the scab needs to fall off and the underlying skin is smooth and unbroken. Don't rush the process by picking at scabs. This can delay healing and lead to infection and scarring.

  • Does TPOXX speed recovery from mpox?

    At the present, it is not known if TPOXX (tecovirimat) speeds healing, although there is some speculation that it might. TPOXX is intended for people who either have severe mpox symptoms or are at risk of complications, such as immunocompromised people, children, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and those with chronic skin conditions like eczema.

  • Can I take acyclovir if I get mpox?

    It is unlikely the drug Zovirax (acyclovir) will be of any use in people with mpox. Acyclovir is active against herpesviruses, including those that cause genital herpes, oral herpes (cold sores), shingles, and chickenpox. Mpox is a poxvirus, and, although "mpox" and "chicken pox" both share "pox" in their names, they belong to entirely different families of viruses.

21 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Monkeypox signs and symptoms.

  2. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Monkeypox treatment.

  3. World Health Organization. Monkeypox.

  4. British Columbia Centre for Disease Control. Monkeypox.

  5. Abdelaal A, Serhan HA, Mahmoud MA, Rodriguez-Morales AJ, Sah R. Ophthalmic manifestations of monkeypox virusEye (Lond). 2022 Jul 27. doi:10.1038/s41433-022-02195-z

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Monkeypox: clinical recognition.

  7. American Dental Association. Aphthous mouth ulcers.

  8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patient's guide to monkeypox treatment with TPOXX.

  9. SIGA Technologies. TPOXX (tecovirimat) capsules for oral use.

  10. Reynolds MG, McCollum AM, Nguete B, Lushima RS, 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):380. doi:10.3390/v9120380

  11. Bristol-Myer Squibb. Kenalog (triamcinolone acetonide cream USP).

  12. Bausch & Lomb. Lotemax (loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic gel) 0.5%.

  13. Allergan. Restasis (cyclosporine ophthalmic emulsion) 0.05%.

  14. Food and Drug Administration. Over-the-counter (OTC) monograph M016: skin protectant drug products for over-the-counter human use.

  15. Marx W, Kiss N, Isenring L. Is ginger beneficial for nausea and vomiting? An update of the literature. Curr Opin Support Palliat Care. 2015;9(2):189-95. doi:10.1097/SPC.0000000000000135

  16. Arndt W, Mitnik C, Denzler KL, et al. In vitro characterization of a nineteenth-century therapy for smallpoxPloS One. 2012;7:e32610. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032610

  17. Markum E, Baillie J. Combination of essential oil of Melaleuca alternifolia and iodine in the treatment of molluscum contagiosum in children. J Drugs Dermatol. 2012;11(3):349-54.

  18. World Health Organization. Perceptions of monkeypox from those most at risk: men who have sex with men having multiple sexual partners.

  19. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Considerations for monkeypox vaccination.

  20. American Medical Association. What physicians need to know about tecovirimat (TPOXX) for treatment of monkeypox.

  21. GlaxoSmithKline. Zovirax (acyclovir) capsules.

By James Myhre & Dennis Sifris, MD
Dennis Sifris, MD, is an HIV specialist and Medical Director of LifeSense Disease Management. James Myhre is an American journalist and HIV educator.