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(AKA some things I think might be helpful for you to know)

in case it’s not obvious, mpox = monkeypox 

(but less problematic a term)

(also can we stop perpetuating the racist, 

harmful, and inaccurate associations 

with the African continent and 

black bodies please? 

(and also remember and acknowledge the many Indigenous people who died from smallpox, their families, communities, and nations, and how that colonial legacy continues to play out and echo into our lives today, and be thankful and grateful for all the people who were affected by smallpox and whose experiences gifted us our best chances at managing mpox.)

A few general opening thoughts and sassy DISCLAIMERs:

  • Honey. Don’t just believe anything you read, including this! (You shouldn’t have to believe anything for a lot of it to still be useful). 

  • Also, information/knowledge is changing every day. This was mainly written on June 25th, 2022. 

  • Everything I’ve shared is either what I’ve learned from my own experience with mpox, including participating in mpox research projects that have already started, experiences of a close friend (hereby referred to as a/the lover) who has mpox, stories I’ve been hearing from friends through my social networks, news media, and or information I’ve gleaned from professional meetings/teleconferences with Toronto & Provincial Public Health officials.

There’s a lot we don’t know (that nobody knows yet) - but for those of us who are actually having to deal with mpox, we have to make the best decisions we can whether we have all the ‘evidence’/information or not.

I’ve also shared some of my opinions, which are not to be confused with facts.

 

Think critically. I’m not really too interested in whether you fully agree or not, but if you spot information that is factually incorrect, please speak up (and share the source of evidence your correction is based on). I *love* a good correction. 

  • If something I say below is wrong/incorrect, and the truth means that the situation is actually less dire than I’ve understood it might be, that is so good. Please, correct me!

  • If something is wrong/incorrect, and might or certainly will be harmful to someone, that is not good, and please correct me.

for the entire journey you have with mpox

  • You don't deserve mpox, mpox isn’t your fault, nobody asks for mpox. Like every other infectious disease, it’s a bigger issue than any one individual person can ever fully control.

  • You do deserve compassion, and the more compassion you have for yourself, the better. Let yourself cry.

Someone’s gonna get mpox (otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this).

I so hope that I have to eat my words and somehow, magically, the outbreak just…stops. 

  • This guide is written for people who get mpox, because some people will get mpox. 

  • It’s normal to want guarantees when it comes to knowing if and how mpox can be spread.

  • But there are no guarantees: even if you try your hardest, you still might catch mpox, and if you do, you might pass it to someone else. 

  • The guide has ideas/information on lowering the chances of passing mpox on, but prevention is not the goal or a priority of this resource. Some people call it a postvention.

My goal is to support other folks who get mpox, not to tell you what to do.

If it sounds preachy, it’s coming from a place of compassion/concern

(and yeah, maybe it’s a bit preachy!) 

  • The only thing I do honestly want you to do, and even feel OK pressuring you a bit to do it, is to be as compassionate and kind to yourself as possible. (That’s as intense as the pressure will be).

  • Beyond that, you can do all the things I suggest, some of the things, or none of the things. Any of those scenarios are equally interesting to me!

  • I’m going for a ‘no judgment’ vibe for people who get mpox here.

  • But the healthcare & public health systems don’t get the same treatment.

  • If I’ve done my job, either way there should be information that’s helpful or validating to you.   

I'm writing this as someone who...

  • Is in downtown Toronto, Canada

  • Is still going through having mpox and had a pretty easy go of it compared to what I know can happen (by coincidence, I got the vax like a couple days after being exposed)

  • This was all happening at the same time as someone (a lover) who got it from me, who wasn’t vaccinated, & for whom it was pretty severe.

  • I work in queer sexual health/advocacy (have for 15+ years)

  • I don’t think any info & guidance about monkeypox from that perspective really exists yet.​

what to expect if you get mpox, realistically   

  • You’re not going to die. Of course I can’t actually promise that, and there could be exceptional circumstances. But as far as I know no one has with the recent global outbreak (if you have access to healthcare in Canada, you can rest pretty assured that chances of dying from mpox are almost zero.)

  • If you have anything more than the mildest of symptoms you can probably expect to be in bed feeling pretty sick for a few days at least, and dealing with the pox for a good three weeks after that at least

  • The pox can range from just a few tiny, almost-unnoticeable bumps, to some here or there on any part of your body that look like your high-school-best whitehead zits, to lots, deep/big daddy ones, everywhere (soles of your feet, in your urethra, in your rectum, in your throat, in your nose, around your eyes, on your scalp. Ya feelin me?) 

  • I just found out from my lover that you can get pox in your eye. This can be pretty serious and warrants using antivirals (which is what his doc prescribed: tecovirimat AKA Tpoxx). 

  • They’ll probably be at least annoyingly itchy, and probably at least a few of them (possibly most of them) will be pretty painful. 

​If you, my dear, are one of us who gets it really bad, it could be very painful to pee, poop, or swallow. (Update: there might be some blood in your poop, which will be bright red. Scary, but that’s your body going through it.)

If what you’re seeing is more dark red, like the bleeding happened deeper in your bowels and had time to clot, it’s probably something else, and it could be serious, please google). ​​

No matter how bad it is there are things you can do to significantly decrease the discomfort (read on!), and if it’s so bad you can’t handle it, shore yourself up as much as possible for what could be a tough healthcare experience, but still go to the hospital, and once there advocate for yourself as much as you can. Push your doctor/nurse/whatever as hard as you can to do as much for you as they can.

seriously, vaccines are like, a miracle that gives your immune system superpowers
(and you can still be OK whether you get vaccinated or not)

Vaccination for mpox is probably one of our best bets at dealing with mpox. As I mentioned above, by total coincidence I got vaccinated just a few days after I was exposed (I didn't know that I'd been exposed yet). I'm very confident that it made my experience way easier than the lover who got it from me (who hadn't been vaccinated, and who got it wayyy worse). 

Candidly: I care enough about ‘you’ to write this, but I don’t really care if you agree or disagree on the whole vaccine topic. Feel free to skip this section if you're going to get prickly about it!

If someone has been exposed to mpox, but isn’t experiencing symptoms yet, vaccination can help a lot if that person did in fact get mpox from the exposure.

Public health folks call this ring vaccination or monkeypox post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP - yep, you read that right!). Yay science!

If someone you had sex with in the past month or so tells you they got mpox: If you can, get vaccinated as soon as possible honey! Similar to COVID, even if you did catch mpox, the vaccine will help prevent the most serious illness. 

 

If you get sick with mpox, have symptoms, and haven’t been vaccinated yet: It’s hard to say how much vaccination helps if you’ve already started showing symptoms. But if they're vaccinating people who have been exposed to mpox (see ring vaccination, above), it doesn't feel like a leap to vaccinate people who've started showing symptoms. Could it be harmful and make things worse? Probably not (of course, there’s no guarantees, so recognize that there’s a theoretical risk & decide whether that risk is worth it). Could it be helpful, even if just a little bit, by reducing how bad it gets or how long it lasts? There’s probably an ok chance the answer’s yes (i.e., almost exactly my situation). If you agree, do you think a healthcare provider saying “we don’t normally expect it to, or know if it might, have any effect if you’ve already started showing symptoms” should stop you from doing whatever you can to get vaxxed anyway? No. You’re the best person (maybe the only person) to push for and insist on as much as possibly can be done to make this as painless as possible. 


If you can’t get vaccinated: There’s still a lot you can do to avoid the most painful/uncomfortable aspects. You matter, vaxxed or not, and in a good and just world, it’s yo body, yo choice, roe. v. wade or not (seriously SCOTUS? wrong kind of scrotum). Shout out to those folks who, for one reason or another, aren't able to get vaccinated and so don't have the choice at all. <3

Taking Precautions > Isolation

After years of the global COVID pandemic, we all probably know a thing or two about isolation - physical, mental, spiritual, cultural, sexual. It can be really tough. I’m going to be real here: mpox is probably going to be as tough, or tougher. I really hope it’s not, but I’m not writing this resource to sugar coat.

Let's acknowledge, mpox adds a few extra layers to the challenge of isolation:

  • It’s longer. The minimum amount of time someone might expect to be told to isolate for if they have COVID is around 5 days (plus at least 24 hours after they’ve stopped experiencing any symptoms). With milder mpox that will probably look more like 10 to 14 days minimum. If your pox are on the more serious/severe end, realistically, you’re probably looking at 4 weeks minimum. By minimum, I mean: don’t be surprised if it takes a week longer, or even if it takes two weeks longer. It’s a marathon. There are some tips below if that long is impossible for you. 

  • It’s more…isolatey? isolonely? With COVID, everyone had their own isolation experience, but everyone had one, so people were sort of isolated together. But since so few of us have actually gotten mpox, almost nobody has had to isolate for it. So if you get mpox, you sort of experience the isolation (and fuck, the entire infection) alone: there really just aren’t that many people who actually understand what it’s like. 

  • There are no benefits, no cushions, no programs. The federal and provincial governments have totally dropped the ball on supporting people who have to isolate for mpox. There’s no CRB (Covid Recovery Benefit), there’s no Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit, no Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, no rent relief, no eviction protection. There aren’t even many doctors who know the first thing about mpox.  There pretty much aren’t any of the things that helped to cushion the blow of COVID for people. We’re sorta on our own. 

Think critically about guidelines/rules and what works for you


Remembering early COVID days, not all or even most of the precautions suggested at the beginning of the pandemic were totally necessary, and over time many guidelines were relaxed even before vaccines were widely available (if you’re still sanitizing every single thing you buy…honey, ya don’t need to). I think it’s reasonable to expect the same for mpox: government and healthcare guidelines will probably be more strict, or cautious, in the beginning, and as the mpox outbreak plays out it will change according to what we learn. 

 

Keep in mind:

  • There will always be a ‘grey zone’  and questions that are impossible to answer with 100% certainty.
    If you’ve ever been in the position of wondering whether something you did could transmit HIV, you might have heard answers like “well, it’s possible, but very unlikely, and hard to say for certain.” You also probably know there are some ways HIV transmission is clearly much more likely: frontal or anal sex without a very effective prevention option (U=U, PrEP, or condoms), especially if one person doesn’t know they have HIV. 

  • There’s almost zero chance that any of the guidelines will be written by people who have mpox, or even might get mpox.
    By definition, these people can’t ever know what it’s actually like getting mpox. (It is not easy to learn everything that experience teaches / there are many things that one can only learn through experience). Since the beginning of the AIDS epidemic (and probably long before that) 2-spirit/gay/bi/queer men’s safer sex respose has always been ahead of the curve, with ‘Public Health’ guidelines always trying to catch up, often taking years to turn what gay/bi/queer men do into guidelines or policy.

We’re not new at this. So, perfect time to plug serosorting, our very own home-grown prevention strategy…also related to other concepts such as as ‘showing up for each other’, ‘remembering our history’, and ‘being a grown-up and not catastrophizing STIs.’

If you know someone else who got mpox - maybe a cutie who passed it on to you, maybe someone you passed it on to - this is a chance to show up for each other, and there’s a good chance you might only have each other to show up for - you, my friend, have just joined a very small, select club! Also, thank ya jesus (soft j) - unlike pretty much everyone else in the world you know, you don’t really have to worry so much about passing on mpox to each other - that train has left the station. Choo choooo!

You don’t have to know each other. You don’t even really have to like each other. You don’t have to be friends, or boyfriends, or talk every day. But you can still be kind, caring, and compassionate to each other, whether that means just one time when you’re sharing news (giving or getting a ‘heads up’ that someone might have mpox), or doing more than that and going out of your way to make time for someone you’ve been rubbin’ skin with. 

If you could use some support, care, or compassion, try accepting it, and try not to be too pushy or demanding.

 

If you can give support, care, or compassion, give it, make sure you ask if they want it, respect their answer, and gently set boundaries when you need to.

 

Watch a harmless movie together, even if neither of you like it. Go to the hospital with each other and ask doctors the types of questions parents ask (don’t be pushy, but ask if and how you can be pushy on their behalf). Help each other cover and care for pox (it’s sooo much easier than doing it alone). Do you have a drug plan and the ability to get a prescription that your serobuddy can’t? Bend the fucking rules!

If you're in a situation where it's not possible to isolate or distance yourself from one or more people...

Isolation will look different for every person depending on their living situation. There may be some people who just can’t physically isolate. Maybe you have to care for someone, or someone has to care for you. Maybe you need help with mobility & getting around. Maybe you have to share a bed with someone, or want to watch a movie on the couch together.

Focus on the things you can do that will have the biggest impact. 

if you’re going to be in close quarters with someone...In essence, your skin will be shedding mpox virus, especially from the pox, and those viral particles can infect someone else through their skin. Don’t rub your pox on people (it’s just polite)! If your pox touch something, be mindful and try to avoid other people touching it. 

Cover your skin, cover your pox, and pay attention
to any fabrics that touch your skin.

  • Wear a mask if your faces are going to be close enough that you could smell each other’s breath (chewing gum, coffee breath, morning breath, dick breath [had to say it], etc.). Save your spit play and moist breath for another time :-) ​

  • Try to keep a barrier of fabric between skin. Even if it’s just a sheet wrapped around you. Clothes are a good option that most people, you know, wear….and the more coverage the better. Whatever is the least uncomfortable & doesn’t make you too hot or irritate any bumps/rash you have.

  • Cover your pox: Do the best you can to add an additional barrier on top of the pox, even a simple band-aid or two (a lot more on pox care below).​

🎶 think head to toes & wherever skin shows 🎶

The looks: 

  • (these are silly jokes, don’t go that far unless it’s a fun dress-up day!)

Some other (more practical) options/ideas:

  • Head & neck: 

    • Something with a hood you can put up (like a hoodie or light coat), a turtleneck, a light scarf, even a towel draped around your neck

  • Torso and arms: 

    • Long-sleeved shirt, a robe, long-sleeved pajamas

  • Hands:

    • Gloves if your hands are going to touch someone. If you can avoid touching someone with your hands, you can probably put your winter gloves back in the closet. 

  • Legs: 

    • Long-legged pants, baggy/big shorts that cover as much of your legs as possible, a long dress/skurt or a long robe. 

    • Heck, if push comes to shove, that bathhouse towel you forgot to return last time you went to the spa wrapped around your waist (I know you know how!)

  • Feet: 

    • socks, stockings, slippers, shoes

Image by Alina Grubnyak

Contact Tracing & Public Health

Contact Tracing: See whatever I said about serosorting up there. I’m tired.

Public Health:

  • My approach: As a general rule, I don’t give out people’s contact information without their consent. Public health is no different. You also don’t have to tell them anything you don’t want to. You also don’t have to tell them any, or all, of the truth, as far as you remember it. You have no way of knowing whether the people you’ve had sex with actually were anonymous or not if you were blindfolded the whole time! 

  • If you don’t think you have it in you to tell people directly, if you’re just busayyy, and especially if you can’t tell people directly (like if there’s a potential for violence) - let Public Health do it for you. It’s literally their job. Do like a friend of mine did and give them the most comprehensive list you possibly can…keep ‘em busy!

 

Interesting fact!

No infectious diseases have ever been eradicated through contact tracing alone.

Coincidentally, the virus the monkeypox vaccine was originally created for,

~~~ smallpox ~~~,

is the only virus humans have ever successfully fully eradicated.
 

Pink Sugar

these dudes put all their eggs in one basket.

don't be like these dudes. 

eggsinbasket_edited.png
Doctor's Desk

What's up doc? Notes on healthcare and treatment options

Spoiler alert: I think it’s a disappointing, troubling situation.

 

  • In terms of what the medical system can do to help…most of what I’ve read on the internet, or heard from friends, is the basic and dismissive “take a couple tylenol, and your symptoms will usually resolve on their own after a few weeks.”

  • To be honest I am surprised (and a bit angry) at just how little the healthcare system seems interested or even willing to do to help people get through what can be a really truly terrible experience. Especially because there are treatments that have shown effectiveness. But even wound care education when people get diagnosed would be better than nothing. 

  • From what I’ve heard or seen some people have to endure - even from my own relatively mild experience - if you ask me, anything that can be done to make things even just a small bit easier is worth the effort.

Quick Recap:

People who get mpox are experiencing a month-long socially/sexually/physically isolating, painful, potentially-severe-enough-to-be-life-threatning, stigmatized, new/rare viral outbreak that could potentially see them lose their employment, suffer severe financial hardship, and threaten their housing security, while still coping with the impacts of at least two other life-altering global pandemics (COVID and HIV).

And the most common ‘treatment’ (if you can call it that) is….
being told to take a tylenol and deal with it.

Ok. Check.

I can’t figure out if it’s because doctors simply aren’t sure how effective, if at all, any one particular treatment will be, so the easiest thing for them is to just do nothing at all?

 

I’m sure it’s partly because they just don’t think the suffering is bad enough to warrant any actual intervention.

 

It’s hard not to wonder if a small or big part of it is some just think that gay men deserve to suffer a bit…that’s what you get, after all, when you choose that lifestyle, isn’t it?

Got a good doctor? Ready/willing/able to advocate for yourself - or have someone who will on your behalf?

 

  • I’ve already mentioned getting vaccinated as an option, and that it’s the main factor that I feel spared me the worst compared to what my lover has gone through.

    • To me, ‘we’re not sure how effective it is at this point,’ or ‘yeah, it hasn't been recommended to be used that way in the guidelines,’ or ‘there’s just not very much evidence,’ are not reasons to throw in the towel.

    • If you’re willing to give it a shot and get the shot, push your healthcare providers and public health officials and systems, and keep pushing until they just give up and vaccinate you, you sassy squeaky wheel, or until they outright refuse.

  • There are antiviral treatments (medications) that have some effectiveness. It seems the medical system believes these are only worth using in the absolute most dire situations like where someone’s life is at stake. Again, I don’t get it. It’s only bad enough if death is imminent? No. 

Emergency

An unlikely poxxibility, but important warning:
One way things can get very serious is if you
develop secondary infections in your pox (sores)

  • The pox are like sores, and depending on where they are in/on your body, if they’re irritated or opened, and a host of other factors come into play, it’s possible for other unrelated bacteria to cause infections. 

  • If you suspect this might be happening to you, seek medical care as soon as possible. Be a sissy! Don’t wait and see how much worse it gets. If you do see a doctor, and they say everything looks ok and send you away, but you continue to feel worse and worse, go back to the doctor and try again.

  • Some possible signs this could be happening: Maybe some pox start getting even bigger and badder, or producing a lot of discharge (puss or blood), or the skin around them gets inflamed, or they start feeling warm/hot, or your whole body temperature keeps going higher and higher and doesn’t seem to be levelling off. 

  • A case in point for illustration: A once-removed friend (i.e., my friend’s friend) recently shared an update from the hospital after getting mpox. The infection in his throat had gotten so severe that he physically couldn’t swallow the antibiotics that were supposed to treat him. He ended up in hospital for a week so the antibiotics could be given intravenously. 

👀 EYES 👀 

I've recently found out it's also possible to get pox in your eye.

If you think this is happening (your eye(s) getting red, painful, difficulty seeing),

this is something you'll want to see a doctor about, sooner better than later:

Your eye(s) can be permanently damaged. 

 

This happened to a friend of mine, and was of sufficient concern that

he got prescribed tecovirimat (also cutely known as TPOXX), the antiviral that works against mpox.

He said it started working almost immediately, and that he's feeling way better. 

You are important enough for everyone to err on the side of precaution. 

 
Yoga

Caring for yourself: there is a lot you can do.
(and no, I'm not going to tell you to do yoga :-P)

Advice for three different aspects/parts of getting mpox: :

~the feeling really sick phase~

~the pox phase~

~and my weird-nerdiness-exposing-favourite, wound care!~

The 'in bed and feeling really sick' phase...

 

  • There will probably be a period (at least a few days long), closer to the beginning of your mpox journey (it was 4 solid days for me, 5 for the lover I mentioned) where you will be having that generic constellation of flu-like symptoms, like the ones that happen with a lot of different infections (think headaches, fever, sweats, chills, sore throat, muscle pain..and just general exhaustion). 

  • All the standard advice applies: keep hydrated, eat what and when you can, take tylenol/advil (or whatever drugs/medicine that works for you) to get you through and dull the pain a bit. 

  • The number one type of food that has always helped me through those rough sick timesfreezies and popsicles.
    Cold, sugary, sweet relief. Cheap ones, fancy organic ones, whatever. They don’t have a tonne of nutritional value, fine, but sometimes they’re the only thing that you can bring yourself to ingest, and you’re at least getting *some* fluids, giving your body a little bit of energy, and cooling you down a bit. (my personal faves are the Welch’s ones made mostly from grape juice and ‘Tropical Paradise’ Popsicles...but anything works!).  

  • Again, can’t say this enough: as much as you possibly can, be kind to yourself. Check out. Disconnect. If you feel like having a nap, lie down and nap. Bored? Try napping. Wake up and pee. Have another nap! 

  • Depending on how fever-delerium your trip is, days and nights might blend in to one another a bit. If you take any medications on a daily basis, It can be helpful to set an alarm on your phone to go off once a day, the same time every day, and pushing yourself to take your medication before you hit snooze or stop the alarm. 

  • This stage will, eventually, ease up, and eventually end. Be strong, darling. The pox will take a while longer. 

The POX phase...

  • So this is where the whole mpox experience gets very real. It probably will not be any fun (but a good attitude and/or dark humour can help - you are allowed to make all the jokes).

 

  • Scratching and picking *will* make things worse. They can get infected, and those infections can get very bad. Like hospitalization and IV antibiotics bad. 

  • If you have pox in your mouth/throat, I strongly encourage you to rinse your mouth with salt water 3-4 times a day + after you eat. It can help reduce discomfort and, very importantly, fend off infections. I know it's sorta unpleasant. But so are infected pox in your mouth and throat.

    • Mix 1sp salt into 1 cup warm water​, take as much of it in your mouth is comfortable (practice those skills honey!), gargle around the back of your throat, rinse around your mouth, teeth, and gums, then spit (even if you don't normally 😉).

  • Try rubbing an ice cube on the itchy ones. If you’re desperate, see if you can find a cream with a numbing agent like lidocaine in it at the pharmacy. 

  • If you’re like me and have a tendency to panic-splurge at the pharmacy when a new health situation happens, start with the baby products selection - the soaps, shampoos, lotions and potions, are designed to be as mild as possible.

Managing the pain/itchiness of itchy pox

  • Some of the pox can get very, very itchy.

  • Honestly, I'm not sure how much lotions and potions will help. Proper wound care (covering your pox) can definitely make a difference though. 

  • Ideas for things that might help reduce the severity of the itchiness:

    • ​Calamine lotion (dab it onto itchy pox w/ a cotton ball/pad or tissue)

    • Creams with analgesic (a numbing agent) - there’s a version of polysporin with lidocaine in it available at lots of pharmacies

    • Zinc oxide cream (aka Penaten cream) can provide a soothing barrier. ​

  • Remember:

    • Putting too much on doesn’t help more.

    • Any creams in general could make it hard to get things like bandaids/bandages to stick to your skin later on.

    • An alcohol wipe, or a cotton ball/pad/tissue with rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or let’s be real, if it comes to it, hard liquor like vodka, will help remove oiliness on skin you need something to stick.

  • It might not hurt trying an antihistamine (like benadryl, allegra, reactine, or aerius)

    • Heads up, benadryl can make you a bit drowsy/sleepy (which can also be a desirable side effect​)

    • Also, generics are literally the same molecule as brand name. the brands don't make a better version of the molecule. If money is tight, trust that you'll be getting the *exact* same drug (read what the active ingredients are first to confirm), minus the placebo effect of a pretty bottle with pictures you've seen on the TV!

  • Again, care for your pox!  Treat they like they're your babies. They are!There’s a few options in the next section that can be helpful.
Image by Amin Moshrefi

Levelling up your wound care
(protect your pox!)

(singular: pock. I thought I made that up, but this guy says it’s correct!)

 

Science says....protecting your pox (keeping them covered) can help them

heal faster and reduce/prevent scarring. 

  • Standard advice: clean with soap & water first if possible (showering isn’t a bad idea).

  • Sanitize your hands & use as clean a table/surface as possible. 

  • Everything sticks best if skin is isn't wet or greasy/lubey. Using an alcohol wipe gently on any areas of skin you want something to stick to can help a lot too. 

  • If all you’ve got are band-aids, use whatcha got. But there are a few other options that from my experience are way, way, better at staying on & reducing discomfort (read on, comrade!).

  • If you do your research you might be able to find better prices for the same or similar products that I’ve linked to below. The ones I’m linking to are mostly the exact ones that I’ve used (or very similar) & know are good so can recommend with confidence. I tried *a lot* of options & it cost a pretty penny so please, learn from my miss-takes. 

Basically the idea is:

For each ‘pock,’ or group of pox, give it/them a secure covering that

protects it and makes the best environment for it to heal.

  • The most careful, risk-averse person would say ‘change daily.’ I’m more along the lines of “do it carefully, keep everything very clean, then set it and forget it.’ I’ve gone as long as 3 days without changing pox dressing, but wouldn’t push it much longer than that.

 

  • Budget and time are a big factor in deciding how often you re-do it all. Personally I’d go with quality, pro materials that last a few days over lots and lots of band-aids that don’t do a great job at fully covering, get dirty, and either fall off all the time, or are super annoying/painful to take off and leave sticky residue. I bet pretty much everyone else would do it this way too if cost wasn’t such a deciding factor (lookin' at you, gov't and community orgs!).

 

  • If you’re in Canada and going through this, and tight on $, I’ve secured a little donation to put some kits together with the key supplies I’ve mentioned below to send to folks. E-mail me, and maybe we can chat a bit. This is important to me. igotmpox@gmail.com or use the form on this page

How POXY are ya?

  • So, some of you honeys might have lots and lots of pox. That's a lot of babies to take care of!

  • They might also be really close together, making it hard to cover them individually. 

  • Some might be hard to reach or just not really bother you much.

  • Maybe you want to show them off, you beautiful thing! 

 

It's not really about covering every single pock:

it's more about covering the ones that are causing the most discomfort,

or the really big daddy ones that are more likely to get infected after they pop their top. 

 

Pox care is really about your comfort

(I was going to say "comfort and protecting from infection,"

but if one gets infected, you won't be comfortable.)

Heads up: give those babies room to grow!

  • I just heard from a doc I know that some folks who’ve been using band-aids (or whatever they’ve used) have been struggling: be aware that the pock you’re covering might (and probably will) *grow* - if whatever you’re covering it with is too small, and it grows, you could end up in a situation where the sticky part of the band-aid is stuck to the actual pock. If that happens it won’t be fun hunny  :-(

monkeypox growth

In the pix above the green arrows point to the same random mole I have so you can get a sense of how the pictures align.

 

  • The top left pic ("Baby pock 👶🏽") shows a pock very early on for me when it had just started out as a baby. I actually thought it really was just a little ingrown hair kinda thing. 

    • The red dotted circle represents about how much bigger it grew (basically, the area that was eventually like a ‘whitehead’

    • The blue square is to give you a rough idea of how much space I left around it for the band-aid

 

  • The bottom left pic ("Superimposed Daddy pock 👨🏽‍🦲") shows how the baby pock grew up super-imposed!

 

  • The right pic ("protected pock") shows it all covered up. 

 

  • Shout out to the doc who shared this info and the poor babes who had really uncomfortable times pulling band-aids off! 

Tips for taking off sticky bandages:

Remove bandages with care. Again: BE A SISSY!

This is not a just-do-it-quick-and-rip-the-band-aid-off relationship break-up. 

  • if you have a bathtub, now’s a great time to give it a little scrub and run yourself a bath! Soaking things for a bit can help a lot. ​

  • Especially if the dressings have been on a couple days and it’s time to replace them, a bath or warm shower to soak a bit, then taking them off in the bath/shower, helps clean them a bit at the same time. 

  • You can also use oil (whatever cooking oil you have, e.g. coconut oil, olive oil) or silicone lube (that's right, it's not just for staining your sheets!):​
     

    • Rub it along the edges and slooowwwwly pull the bandage away. The oil helps break down the stickiness.

MY POX CARE SYSTEM

The system that has worked the best for me, and that my friendlover said made a HUGE difference for him compared to band-aids or nothing, is basically making your own DIY band-aid.

Image by ERIC ZHU
#1) OPTIONAL ‘magic relief wet layer’ that helps soothe or heal, directly on the pock
Image by JJ Ying
#2) A ‘padding’ layer that goes on the pock/bump and protects it

(two types: |
(A) space-agey single dry layer, or
(b) magic relief wet layer + padding)
Image by Aaron Barrera
#3) A larger waterproof/water-resistant ‘sticking/tape layer’ 
that is cut big enough for there to be a good/thick border (think at least 1cm) around the edge, that goes on the very top and keeps everything nicely in place
Image by ERIC ZHU

#1) OPTIONAL bonus ‘Magic relief’ wet layer (directly on the pock)

Wet layer that goes directly on the skin/pock & helps to prevent bandage from sticking. It's cooling and relieving and sorta fun to use. 

Hydrogel square pads (e.g. ‘2nd Skin) [chorus of angels singing in the background]

image11.png

Gel squares example pic

(before taking off the blue plastic protective layer)

Can you see it in this shameless thirst trap pic?

So good. Not cheap but so good. (again, reach out to me, I can literally send you some!)

Bulk options:

2nd skin - 200 squares (lasts for ever, perfect size) - $97

Slightly cheaper option but same thing (haven’t tried these) - $74 for 200

 

On-a-budget option or for the ‘daddy’ pox that are the most itchy/painful:

Smaller pack of large 2nd skin gels - 4 pads that are 2”x3” - can be cut into many smaller squares, but requires patience ‘cause they’re sticky - $12.99

Image by JJ Ying

#2 - Padding Layer (a dry layer that’s not sticky to protect the pock:

Not-your-parents’-old-school-gauze options that absorb secretions without getting super nasty:

  • Calcium alginate dressing - provides really good, soft, absorptive,  additional padding - comes in larger sheets you cut down to size - $38.27 for 10 4.25”x4.25” pads, which should be more than enough.

calcium alginate_edited_edited.jpg
  • Curad Top Sponge, 4 Inches X 4 Inches (cut into smaller pieces, whatever size needed), 3 boxes (each box has 12 2-packs), should be more than enough to last the whole way through - ~$12

image2_edited_edited.jpg
Image by Aaron Barrera

#3 - Sticking/tape layer (on top of everything to hold it in place)

Best Option IMHO: ‘Transparent film dressing’ / Tegaderm (thin, clear, almost-like skin, plastic, my go-to)

  • It’s a bit trickier to apply & takes a while to figure out, but when done well it is totally clear, water proof, doesn’t peel, comes off like magic, and is super thin and flexible.

  • There are lots of similar options on amazon (for example ones that are individual squares or have different designs to make putting them on easier. I like the big roll because it will cover pretty much any size area needed, whereas the smaller individual squares can get pretty tiny and might not be big enough.

Examples for illustrative/educational purposes only:

Another very good option: Hypafix self adhesive dressing

 

  • (more fabric-y so breathes a bit better, but still very thin, super flexible, sticks to skin like magic, a bit easier/simpler to apply, gets dirty a bit more quickly)

  • I and my friend have both found that if you keep this on too long, when you take it off there’s almost like a red chemical burn/mark. I've always had weird reactions to cloth band-aids though (as have my dad & sister - so random!) So if you have sensitive skin be careful with this one.

 

Hypafix sample/example pix (😇):

Image by Jeff Siepman

camouflage, baby, camouflage

  • For certain situations (still better than basic medical tape or cheap hospital band-aids):

  • One possible downside of the first two options is that they’re pretty obvious/visible (either the padding layer or the top layer is bright, snow-white), so they really stand out.

  • If you want something a bit more discreet that is closer to your skin tone (for example areas that are more exposed), I’d suggest using one of the following options, and then covering that with a larger square of the transparent film.

  • Another brand that doesn’t pretend all humans have one lights skin tone is Tru-Colour Skin Tone Adhesive Fabric Diversity Bandages. There’s a multi-pack for $20 that has three packs (each for a different skin tone) of 20 band-aids. Or if you, like most other humans, only need/have one skin colour, you can get a few of the individual colours, separately on its own, in packs of 30 strips for $8 a pop.

  • Nexcare ‘Absolute waterproof First Aid Tape’ - $18/roll - comes from an alternate universe where everyone is presumed to have lighter skin (AKA the ‘white supremacist universe’), so they only make it in one colour. It comes in a roll; stays on pretty well by itself but would still be helped by a transparent top-layer. It does have a bit more of a foamy ‘cushioning’ effect b/c it’s a bit thicker.

None of the above options are perfect because they all have size limits, and they might be more difficult to remove, but they are very good for some situations (like if you need to run to the store to grab something, or go on a walk, or whatever, and you just want to give yourself a bit of a break).

Other potions, lotions, creams, polysporin, etc.…

the promise, the allure, is so real. heal faster! protect from infection!

  • As far as I understand it, the reality is: other creams/lotions/potions probably won’t make things better, and very well could make things worse.

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heeling

Rose 1_edited_edited.png

Physically, it will take some time for everything to heal,

so be kind to yourself, and prepare yourself to be patient as best as possible.

  • Silicone scar tape: Once new pox have stopped showing up, and the ones you have are clearly in ‘healing’ mode, you might want to simplify things by switching to just using soft silicone scar repair tapeYou can get a roll of it for ~$20.​It’s not as strongly sticky as the wound care described above, but apparently the silicone helps to soften the skin & helps reduce any residual scars (it can also help soften scars that have already formed).  

It’s worth noting that there might be other ways you might have to heal:

going from ‘isolation’ back to the social world can take some work, and time to adjust.

  • There might also be some healing to do in terms of: personal confidence, unlearning/resisting mpox/slut stigma and feelings of shame, sexual/romantic relationships, and generally getting back into your sexual groove.

  • It’s too early to say for sure, but there’s a chance that our bodies will develop immunity to mpox, so even if it’s shitty, you only have to go through it once. If you add getting both doses of the mpox vaccine (whether it’s during your mpox infection or after), knowing that it won’t happen again can really help put some distance between yourself and the experience.

If you’ve been dealing with feelings of shame or guilt because of mpox, look at it this way:

 

with what you’ve had to go through,

you’ve *earned* all the amazing,

shameless, guilt-free sex you can get!

me

 

i'm Len!

i'm in Toronto

will add more later.
igotmpox@gmail.com        

 


THIS IS THE END.