You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or primary care doctor. However, in some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a skin disease specialist (dermatologist) or to an allergy specialist.
Because appointments can be brief and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it can help to be well prepared. Here are some tips to help you get ready for your appointment and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Write down your signs and symptoms, when they occurred, and how long they lasted. Also, make a list of all medications, including vitamins, herbs, supplements and over-the-counter drugs that you're taking. Even better, take the original bottles and a written list of the dosages and directions.
Write down questions that you want to ask your doctor. Don't be afraid to ask questions or to speak up when you don't understand something your doctor says. For hives and angioedema, questions you may want to ask include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms?
- Are tests needed to confirm the diagnosis?
- What are other possible causes for my symptoms?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What is the best course of action?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you're suggesting?
- Do I need prescription medication, or can I use over-the-counter medications to treat the condition?
- What results can I expect?
- Can I wait to see if the condition goes away on its own?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
Feb. 14, 2014
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- What did your skin reaction look like when it first appeared?
- Have your symptoms changed over time?
- Have you noticed anything that makes your symptoms worse or better?
- Do your skin lesions mainly itch, or do they burn or sting?
- Do your skin lesions go away completely without leaving a bruise or a mark?
- Do you have any known allergies?
- Have you ever had a similar skin reaction before?
- Have you tried a new food for the first time, changed laundry products or adopted a new pet?
- What prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and supplements are you taking?
- Have you started taking any new medications or started a new course of a medication you've taken before?
- Has your overall health changed recently? Have you had any fevers or lost weight?
- Has anyone else in your family ever had this kind of skin reaction? Do other family members have any known allergies?
- What at-home treatments have you used?
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed Aug. 6, 2013.
- Bingham CO. New onset urticaria. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 6, 2013.
- Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 6, 2013.
- Bingham CO. An overview of angioedema: Clinical features, diagnosis and management. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Aug. 6, 2013.