Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to see your family doctor or a general practitioner first. He or she may refer you to a specialist in skin diseases (dermatologist) or infectious diseases.

What you can do

List all your signs and symptoms and when they first occurred. Record how long the lesions lasted and if any recurred. Make a list of all medications — including vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter drugs — that you're taking. Even better, take the original bottles and a list of the dosages and directions.

For boils and carbuncles, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • Are tests needed to confirm the diagnosis?
  • What is the best course of action?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
  • Can I wait to see if the condition goes away on its own?
  • What can I do to prevent the infection from spreading?
  • What skin care routine do you recommend while the condition heals?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:

  • What did the boil look like when it first started?
  • Are your symptoms painful?
  • Have you had a boil or carbuncle before?
  • Are you having fever or chills?
  • Do you have artificial heart valves, joints or other implanted devices?