Preparing for your appointmentBy Mayo Clinic staff
Although you're likely to see your family doctor or a general practitioner first, you may be referred to a specialist in skin diseases (dermatologist) or infectious diseases.
What you can do
Write down all your signs and symptoms and when they first occurred. Record how long the lesions lasted and if any recurred. Make a list of all medications — including vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter drugs — that you're taking. Even better, take the original bottles and a written list of the dosages and directions.
For boils and carbuncles, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Are tests needed to confirm the diagnosis?
- What is the best course of action?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Can I wait to see if the condition goes away on its own?
- What can I do to prevent the infection from spreading?
- What skin care routine do you recommend while the condition heals?
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- What did the boil look like when it first started?
- Are your symptoms painful?
- Have you had a boil or carbuncle before?
- Are you having fever or chills?
- Do you have artificial heart valves, joints or other implanted devices?
- Habif TP. Clinical Dermatology: A Color Guide to Diagnosis and Therapy. 5th ed. Edinburgh, U.K.; New York, N.Y.: Mosby Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-7234-3541-9..X0001-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-7234-3541-9&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed April 23, 2013.
- 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 April 23, 2013.
- Baddour LM. Skin abscesses, furuncles and carbuncles. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 23, 2013.
- Rakel RE. Textbook of Family Medicine. 8th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191205553-4/0/1481/0.html#. Accessed April 23, 2013.
- Mandell GL, et al. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 7th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?about=true&eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-443-06839-3..X0001-X--TOP&isbn=978-0-443-06839-3&uniqId=230100505-57. Accessed April 24, 2013.
- Steckelberg JM (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 2. 2013.
- Rohren CH (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. May 8, 2013.