Monkeypox Symptoms & Rash - How to Tell if You Have It

Find out more about monkeypox virus symptoms including the difference between monkeypox and other common skin infections and viruses.


Monkeypox is a rare viral infection which has recently been found in the UK (May 2022), although the risk remains low.

Most monkeypox cases are mild. The common monkeypox virus symptoms are similar to other infections, such as a fever and rash. You will be told to isolate if you have monkeypox. You can reduce the risk of catching monkeypox if you get a smallpox vaccine.

Monkeypox is mainly found in Central and West Africa and can be caught from infected rodents, such as mice, rats, and squirrels.

How to tell the difference between monkeypox and other infections

Monkeypox has similar symptoms to other infections, such as chickenpox, measles, and shingles. This includes a rash that can spread over different parts of the body. Learn about the differences between monkeypox and these similar infections, below.

It is rare to get monkeypox, so you are unlikely to have the infection unless you have:

  • been in close contact with someone else with a monkeypox rash
  • recently visited Central or West Africa

You should never self diagnose an infection, especially monkeypox. Speak to a doctor if you think you have an infection.

Table comparing monkeypox to similar infections in terms of incubation period, symptoms and rash appearance.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear after infection?

Monkeypox virus symptoms can take anywhere from 5 to 21 days to appear after you have been infected. This is known as the incubation period.

After the first symptoms, it usually takes between 1 and 5 days for the monkeypox rash to appear on your skin.

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How long am I infectious for?

You are usually infectious from when the rash first appears until it has gone.

You are not infectious during your incubation period, which is before you get any symptoms.

The symptoms of monkeypox usually clear up on their own after a few weeks. Most people recover after 2 to 4 weeks.

You will be told to isolate if you have monkeypox, as you are infectious to people you come into close contact with.

To avoid spreading the virus, you should not:

  • share bedding, clothing, or towels with others
  • have sex with other people

Is there a vaccine available?

You may be offered a vaccine if you have monkeypox. This can reduce the risk of getting seriously ill if you have monkeypox. In the UK, this is usually the smallpox vaccine since the virus that causes smallpox and monkeypox are closely related.

How can I identify a rash?

This is an example of a monkeypox rash.

A close-up photo of a monkeypox rash on someone's back

You can also compare a monkeybox rash against similar infections with our table above (‘Monkeypox vs. similar infections’).

If you develop an unexplained rash, you should speak to your doctor or GP.

Otherwise you can get a diagnosis for a skin condition with our confidential skin photo assessment service. You don’t need to leave home or book an appointment. Simply send our doctors a photo of the affected area (anywhere on your body) and answer a few questions about your health and symptoms. One of our doctors will reply within 24 hours with a diagnosis and advice. This includes recommendations for suitable treatments, some of which we may offer.

Last reviewed: 06 Jun 2022

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