Preparing for your appointment

By Mayo Clinic Staff

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.

Apr. 10, 2014

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