• A man in his thirties said catching monkeypox was one of the most painful experiences of his life.
  • Matt Ford said the pain was so bad in the "underwear region" that he needed an opioid to sleep.
  • Ford was told to isolate until all of his lesions scabbed off and healed.

Matt Ford had no idea he had monkeypox until a friend called him and told him to check himself, and he discovered spots in his "underwear region." The infected friend had unknowingly passed on the virus when they'd met the week before. 

Days later, Ford, a 30-year-old actor living in Los Angeles, would be having the most miserable and painful experience of his life, he told Insider. 

Ford had monkeypox symptoms for about two weeks after finding the spots. He said he didn't think monkeypox would be "that painful or that big of a deal," and was more worried about spreading it.  

Ford is among the 700 people in the US who have been diagnosed with monkeypox since an unusual new outbreak started in May in countries where it isn't typically found.

Most cases in the US have been reported in New York and California, with a high number among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Ford is himself a self-described proud, openly gay man. But anyone can catch it from having close contact with an infected person, including from contaminated sheets or bedding, and it is not a "gay disease," as Insider's Hilary Brueck previously reported.

Ford's fevers were so bad he sweated through his bedsheets 

Ford noticed the spots on Friday, June 17. Over the following weekend, he developed flu-like symptoms such as chills and a cough, swollen lymph nodes, as well as characteristic pimples on his face. Ford's fevers were so intense that he sweated through his sheets at night. 

The following Monday, he got tested for monkeypox at his doctor's office.

While he awaited his results, the flu-like symptoms improved, but the pain in the underwear region ramped up.

Over the next four days, new lesions appeared on his legs and face, and the ones in "the more sensitive areas" became so sore he couldn't sleep at night, despite taking maximum doses of the painkillers Advil and Tylenol. 

Ford said the pain was the worst thing about having monkeypox

Ford said the pain is "by far" the worst thing about having monkeypox. 

"It's like a dull, constant, almost soreness-like pain, accentuated with really intense, sharp jabs of pain," he said of the lesions that appeared all over his body. "It's one of the most painful things I've ever been through. One of the most miserable experiences I've ever had."

Six days after he first saw the spots, until he'd fully recovered, meaning when every lesion had scabbed over, fallen off and was replaced by fresh, healthy skin.

Ford found Vaseline helped ease the pain 

By this point, Ford's pain was so intense that he went back to the doctors, and was prescribed the opioid Tramadol, an antihistamine for the itching, and vaseline. Ford said he found the Vaseline was one of the most helpful things to tackle the pain, and reasoned it was because it protected the lesions from the air.

There is no specific treatment for monkeypox. Antivirals for smallpox, a related virus, can be used for those with weakened immune systems and at risk of getting sick. In the US, confirmed and possible exposures to monkeypox are recommended a vaccine

Ford was told isolate until his scabs completely healed

Almost two weeks after first finding the spots, Ford said he felt fine "sick-wise" and while his pain and improved he was taking painkillers at night as a precaution. He was still isolating, waiting for the lesions to heal. He had 25 monkeypox spots on his body, concentrated around his hands, face and underwear area. 

His advice for others with the condition was to not feel ashamed and "although it really sucks," to remember symptoms won't last forever.

For those not worried about catching it he said: "I used to be one of them, and I would caution them to take it seriously because hopefully more cases will be mild, but having a rough go of this is not fun."

Read the original article on Insider