Preparing for your appointment
By Mayo Clinic staff
You’re likely to start by first seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in skin disorders (dermatologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and there’s often a lot of ground 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 what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Compile your family medical history. Find out if anyone in your family has a history of vitiligo, or a history of any thyroid or autoimmune disease.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses, recent life changes or recent sunburns or skin rashes.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you’re taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor may be limited, so preparing a list of questions may help you make the most of your time together. For vitiligo, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What’s the most likely cause of my symptoms?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms?
- Do I need any tests?
- 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 alternatives to the primary approach that you’re suggesting?
- Are there any restrictions that I need to follow, such as avoiding the sun at certain times or wearing a specific sunscreen?
- Can you recommend a cover-up or self-tanning product?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home? What Web sites do you recommend?
Don’t hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment at any time that you don’t understand something.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask: When did you first begin experiencing pigment loss?
- Did you have a sunburn or skin rash prior to the appearance of your pigment loss?
- Do the areas of pigment loss itch or cause you any other symptoms?
- Have you ever had this type of change in the past?
- Does anyone in your family have a history of vitiligo, autoimmune diseases or both?
- What is your occupation and what are your hobbies? Are you exposed to any harsh chemicals in either?
What you can do in the meantime
While you’re waiting to see the doctor, be sure to limit your sun exposure and wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. If you’re feeling self-conscious about the changes in your skin, you can use cosmetics or self-tanners to cover the depigmented areas.