Monkeypox vs Chickenpox: Here's how to differentiate between them and other skin rashes or infections

Updated on Aug 08, 2022 08:39 PM IST

The Monkeypox rash might resemble other, more typical infectious rashes in appearance due to which patients are getting confused about whether they have Monkeypox, Chickenpox or some other skin rash. Doctors reveal how to differentiate between them

According to the state health department officials, 15 samples have tested negative for monkeypox from Maharashtra. Doctors reveal how to differentiate between Monkeypox, Chickenpox and other skin rashes or infections (HT_PRINT)
According to the state health department officials, 15 samples have tested negative for monkeypox from Maharashtra. Doctors reveal how to differentiate between Monkeypox, Chickenpox and other skin rashes or infections (HT_PRINT)
ByZarafshan Shiraz, Delhi

With a sudden spike in Monkeypox cases, there are a lot of concerns expressed about the virus's potential for spread and transmission. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also declared Monkeypox a global health emergency due to the rising number of cases worldwide.

What is Monkeypox?

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Rohit Batra, Dermatologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi, explained, “Monkeypox is a rash resembling smallpox caused by the viral zoonotic virus (a virus transmitted from animals to humans). However, compared to smallpox, monkeypox infections had considerably lower fatality rates and less person-to-person transmission outside the home. Additionally, the monkeypox rash might resemble other, more typical infectious rashes in appearance due to which patients are getting confused about whether they have Monkeypox, Chickenpox, or some other rash”.

How Monkeypox spreads?

According to Dr Sanjeev Gupta, Professor and Head, Deptt of Dermatology, MM Institute of Medical Sciences And Research Mullana Ambala India, “It can spread to adults and children if they come in direct contact with bodily fluids or sores on the body of a person who has Monkeypox. It can also spread through items like clothing or bedsheets that have come into contact with bodily fluids or sores that have been touched by an infected person. Additionally, it can also spread by respiratory droplets when people are in close face-to-face contact with an infected person”.

Symptoms of Monkeypox

The most typical signs of Monkeypox infection are fever, severe headache, lymph node swelling, back pain, muscle pain, loss of energy and lesions. Dr Rohit Batra added, “Sometimes the rash associated with herpes, shingles or chickenpox might be mistaken for Monkeypox. So, if you develop a rash or bump on your skin and you don’t know what caused it, contact a board-certified dermatologist who can identify the condition that is causing the rash by examining the pattern on the skin, the location of the rash and other symptoms”.

Difference between Monkeypox and Chickenpox:

Dr Rohit Batra revealed some differences between Monkeypox and Chickenpox that include:

1. Monkeypox is an illness caused by orthopoxvirus, while chickenpox is caused by a herpes virus.

2. Fever, malaise, headache and occasionally sore throat, cough and swollen lymph nodes are the typical first-stage symptoms of Monkeypox. All of these symptoms can show up 4-5 days before skin lesions and rashes. Chickenpox causes skin rashes that appear 1 to 2 days after the fever.

3. In comparison to chickenpox, Monkeypox lesions are larger.

4. Chickenpox can lead to a rash that looks like blisters and is itchy that typically starts on the face, back and chest before spreading across the entire body. Lesions from Monkeypox are broad, firm, non-itching, painful, pus-filled papules and the patient will notice the lesions on their face, palms and soles.

Dr. Sanjeev Gupta further added to the list of differences between Monkeypox and Chickenpox and shared:

1. While chickenpox lesions self-limit after seven to eight days, Monkeypox lesions do not

2. Chickenpox lesions can break easily, whereas Monkeypox lesions cannot.

3. Monkeypox lesions take two to four weeks to heal completely, whereas chickenpox lesions heal considerably more quickly.

4. Medical treatment is available for people with chickenpox but frequently they need it as most of the patients heal at home in isolation whereas, in Monkeypox, the liquid inside the rashes might result in viral infection, which reduces the body's defence mechanisms due to which complications can arise.

Dr Sanjeev advised, “Not every rash that a person notices can lead to Monkeypox. If you see something on your skin that looks unusual, especially if you also have fevers, don't panic. Visit a medical practitioner who can help in diagnosing whether you have chickenpox or Monkeypox or if it's other skin infections. Since both diseases are contagious, it is advised that you cover any lumps on your body, wear a face mask and isolate yourself.”

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