Preparing for your appointment

You're likely to start by seeing your primary care doctor. He or she may refer you to a specialist in skin diseases (dermatologist).

Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment.

What you can do

  • Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if you need to do anything in advance.
  • List any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
  • List key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
  • List all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking, including doses.
  • List questions to ask your doctor.

For polymorphous light eruption, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What's the most likely cause of my symptoms?
  • What tests do I need? Do they require any special preparation?
  • Is this condition temporary or long lasting?
  • Is it possible this condition is related to a more serious illness?
  • What treatments are available, and which do you recommend?
  • What side effects can I expect from treatment?
  • Do I need to follow any restrictions?
  • Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
  • Do you have any brochures or other printed material I can take with me? What websites do you recommend?

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor will ask you a number of questions about your symptoms and your medical history, such as:

  • 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?
  • 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 30 in areas that cannot be protected by clothing. Apply it generously 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply it every two hours or more often if you're swimming or sweating. This won't totally protect you from a reaction, as ultraviolet A may penetrate through most sunscreens.