You're likely to start by seeing your family doctor or primary care doctor, but you may be referred to a specialist in skin diseases (dermatologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to arrive well-prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. For polymorphous light eruption, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- What kinds of tests do I need? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
- What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
- What types of side effects can I expect from treatment?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will ask you a number of questions about your symptoms and your medical history. Be prepared to answer the following:
- When did the rash appear?
- Does it itch or cause pain?
- Have you had a fever associated with the rash?
- Do you have any other symptoms?
- What prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications or dietary supplements do you take? What is the dosage of each?
- Did you recently start a new medication?
- Have you recently used a cosmetic or fragrance in the area of the rash?
- Have you had a similar rash before? When?
- Has the duration of your sunlight exposure increased recently?
- Have you recently used a tanning bed or lamp?
- Do you use sunscreen?
What you can do in the meantime
Avoid sun exposure whenever possible. If you can't avoid the sun, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you're swimming or perspiring.
April 10, 2014
- Elmets CA. Polymorphous light eruption. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 6, 2013.
- Photosensitivity. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Health Care Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic_disorders/reactions_to_sunlight/photosensitivity.html#v961913. Accessed Nov. 14, 2013.
- Honigsmann H. Polymorphous light eruption. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine. 2008;24:155.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=4. Accessed Nov. 6, 2013.
- Sunscreen FAQs. American Academy of Dermatology. http://www.aad.org/media/background/factsheets/fact_sunscreen.htm. Accessed Nov. 14, 2013.
- Bissonnette R, et al. Influence of the quantity of sunscreen applied on the ability to protect against ultraviolet-induced polymorphous light eruption. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine. 2012;28:240.
- Sun protective clothing. American Melanoma Foundation. http://www.melanomafoundation.org/prevention/clothing.htm. Accessed Nov. 14, 2013.
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