Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or a primary care doctor. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred directly to a specialist in skin diseases (dermatologist).

Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment and understand what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

  • Write down your signs and symptoms, including when they began and how long they've lasted.
  • Make notes about any new products you've started using and any substances you can think of that regularly come in contact with your affected skin areas.
  • Make a list of all your medications, including vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter drugs you're taking. Don't forget any creams or lotions you're using. Even better, take along the original bottles and a written list of the dosages and directions.
  • Write down questions to ask your doctor. Don't be afraid to ask questions or to speak up.

List your questions from most important to least important, in case your time with your doctor runs out. For contact dermatitis, some basic questions you might ask your doctor include:

  • What might be causing my signs and symptoms?
  • Are tests needed to confirm the diagnosis?
  • What treatment approach do you recommend?
  • Is this condition temporary or chronic?
  • Can I wait to see if the condition goes away on its own?
  • What are the alternatives to the primary treatment approach that you're suggesting?
  • What skin care routines do you recommend to improve my symptoms?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you several questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to discuss. Your doctor may ask:

  • When did you first begin noticing symptoms?
  • How often do you have symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms been continuous or occasional?
  • Does anything seem to make your symptoms better or worse?
  • Have you started using any new cosmetics or household products?
  • Does your work involve using any products that often come in contact with your skin?
  • Do your symptoms ever get better over the weekend or during vacation?
Jul. 30, 2011