General Question

Randy's avatar

How can I get some antibiotics without going to the doctor?

Asked by Randy (11199points) July 3rd, 2010

I have a minor infection that got into a wound on my arm and need some antibiotics but, I no longer have health insurance. Is there any way I can get a hold of some sort of antibiotic without seeing a doctor?

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34 Answers

truecomedian's avatar

The only one I can think of is tetracycline from a pet shop. But that won’t work, antibiotics are very specific. You use the wrong one and it can make things worse.

RedPowerLady's avatar

You can go to urgent care for about 50.00 which is pretty cheap.
Or a walk in clinic for likely less than that.

Otherwise you can just call friends/fam and ask if they have any leftover, most people do.

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Seaofclouds's avatar

You should go to a walk in clinic. You’ll need to know exactly which antibiotic to be on and how long to take it. Taking antibiotics incorrectly can lead to whatever is causing the infection to become resistant to the antibiotic.

lilikoi's avatar

If it’s just a minor infection and a minor flesh wound, is it possible to just clean it out with soap and water and disinfect using something like isopropyl or hydrogen peroxide?

lilikoi's avatar

You should absolutely not just use leftover antibiotics from other people. For one thing, when antibiotics are prescribed to a person, you are supposed to take ALL of it, not leave left overs. To do the latter is ignorant and highly irresponsible. What happens is the bacteria may be not totally killed off, gain resistance, and make a comeback thereby necessitating an even stronger course of antibiotics. To take only a partial dose may also create resistant strains. This is not some theoretical hype – this actually happens. If your wound warrants antibiotics, go to a proper doctor and get a prescription. You would be doing yourself and the rest of us a huge disservice to take the use of antibiotics so lightly.

cazzie's avatar

A flesh wound could be easier to clean out topically, depending on the situation of the infection,... how ‘subdermal’ it’s become and who you injured ourself in the first place. Have you cleaned out the top of the wound really well? Have you continued to apply fresh dressing and clean it? How did you cut yourself? is your tentanus shot up to date?

Infected cuts can be really easy or it can all go really bad in a day. Blood poisoning, tetanus, staff…. it can get ugly. If it’s beyond topical treatment, you really need to stop in a clinic.

lilikoi's avatar

@cazzie is spot on here.

cazzie's avatar

@lilikoi what can I say, I’m a mom. I have this sudden desire to take Randy by the hand and lead him into the bathroom and clean his owwie.

Randy's avatar

@lilikoi I can’t really clean it out at this point because the area is mostly healed and the infection is underneath the skin. There’s no puss, yet, or anything like that but there is some minor swelling and some slight sensitivity. The wound has been kept pretty clean and there is no risk of tetanus.

I was just told about a clinic where a nurse practitioner might be willing to help me out so I suppose I’ll give that a try as soon as I can. Thanks for all the advice.

Nullo's avatar

Walgreens has been implementing what they’re calling the Take Care Clinic, staffed by a nurse practitioner who can write prescriptions. A no-insurance visit runs you $65, plus the cost of whatever vaccines and/or tests you may require.

They do not treat all things, but your condition is probably covered. Even if it’s not officially within the clinic’s scope, a helpful NP may prescribe you your antibiotics anyway. Mine supplemented her own knowledge with books and the Internet.

Other than that, I can only suggest pleading your case at the local doctor’s office or else drinking some vinegar every day and hoping that the pH shift is enough to shake the infection.

lilikoi's avatar

@cazzie :)
@Randy I think in some cases something like that can take care of itself… but if it seems to be getting worse, best to get it looked at. Good luck!

mattbrowne's avatar

Self-administration of antibiotics can be dangerous. Asking a doctor’s advice is the better approach. I heard that some Texas go to Mexican border towns. Bringing lots of dollars. No questions asked.

Kraigmo's avatar

Use an Indian or European online pharmacy. Not the ones in your spambox, though. Use a reputable one. I know of one, but probably cannot mention it here. Canadian online pharmacies are no longer good sources. They now bow down to American FDA demands and do not have staple medicines available.

Also, spend a few hours first researching which antibiotics you need. There are wide-range ones (like Cipro) and narrow-range ones. It’s healthier to avoid the wide range ones, unless your infection is mysterious, in which case, it’s best to go for the wide range ones.

Of course a doctor is what you need, but I realize you may not be able to afford a doctor, much less a doctor plus medicine.

Just figure out what you need and order it.

cockswain's avatar

What am I missing here? You can buy antibiotic creams/gels at any drug store. Are you worried you’ll get an infection the likes of the over the counter stuff won’t cure?

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Flavio's avatar

Going to a doc and getting the right medication early is a lot cheaper than doing something stupid or doing nothing and winding up in the ER and possibly requiring admission for debriedment in an OR. You have not looked hard enough at the resources in your community. There has to be a federally qualified community health center moderately near where you live.

gondwanalon's avatar

There are many things more important than money. Your health is right up there at the top of the list. Get professional medical care now before your condition worsens. Pay a little now or a lot later. Good health!

ericnueman's avatar

I once almost died in an Arab jail long ago with no hope of getting out & just was dieing from lack of inspiration & lack of food but finally I was released almost a year later. The problem was keeping my health without a doctor in an adverse situation to say the least, so I trusted in God instead and it worked out and here I’m here to tell you a little about it!

cazzie's avatar

@cockswain the infection is sub dermal now. The cut healed but now there is a raised red, sore area under the skin where the cut was.

I think @Randy has a handle on it now. He found a place and is going to have it looked at.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

You should never self-diagnose. Antibiotics are hugely varied, and different ones are appropriate for different infections. If you use the wrong one, you could kill your good bacteria instead of the infection, which would only decrease your immune defences. See your doctor – your health is worth the price.

Kraigmo's avatar

All the people who projectively feel the Questioner can afford a doctor just like that, should offer to help pay for him to see a doctor.

From my past, i know what it’s like to literally not have the money for a doctor, much less all the other emergencies in life. Some people are struggling 3 emergencies at once, and they cannot even afford 1/10 of 1 of them.

Someone who really needs help is going get it however he can, cutting whatever corners he can, and taking the inherent risks. They only do this, because there’s no other alternative.

If a little homeless boy comes up to you with a cat who has a broken leg, and asks where he can find wood to splint it, would you tell him to “take it to the vet?”

Hell no, you’d know there’s now way he could do that. Your only choice is to tell him where the wood is so he can splint it, or take the cat in yourself and make sure the cat sees a doctor.

There are no other ways, sometimes.

If this questioner cannot afford a doctor, he needs to move to step 2: which is search for federally funded public clinics in his area ( ), and if there are none, then he’ll have to research his condition from case studies and medical journals on the internet, and then order the most likely appropriate meds from India.

That’s how healthcare works in America. Realistically and literally.

cazzie's avatar

@Kraigmo he’s done that. step 2 you mentioned.. it’s sorted…. you can relax. A clinic in his area is set up with a nurse practitioner who can prescribe what he needs.

Flavio's avatar

the difference between a vet and a doctor is that there are a lot of resources for people who cannot afford out-of-pocket care. While the care is of the highest caliber, the facilities are often much shabbier and there is a much longer wait time. Where I work, it’s the same docs who work half the time in a publicly-funded county general hospital and half the time in a private-pay or private-insurance hospital. Vastly different demographics, exactly the same quality of care.

I will not disagree with you that there over the last 10 years, the public health safety net in this country has seriously deteriorated. The Obama administration has put back some of the resources that were cut during the Bush years, but a lot of the system fell apart or was dismantled under the Republicans. It will be a while before the nation’s healthcare bureaucracy can be reassembled and enough public servants trained & hired to provide services Americans need. It’s also true that if you live in an area of the country where Republicans are in the majority in the state legislature, you will probably have much worse access to care. The HRSA website will show as much, especially when considered along side the state-, county-, and city-funded resources in any particular place.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@Kraigmo “That’s how healthcare works in America.”
How sad. And I thought it was a civilised country. How could any government continue to allow a large sector of the population to go without adequate health care?

khewc's avatar

First of all, it is obvious that the asker of this question does not possess the financial means to visit a proper physician for professional treatment, which is not surprising since the cost of medical care in this country is absolutely outrageous. That being said, all of the negative comments made about his irresponisibility or ignorance in self-treatinig are equally ignorant or callous. To the asker, even a little basic research can more than likely point you in the direction of the correct family of antibiotics for a superficial wound infection. In most cases, this will simply be a triple-antiobiotic ointment (TAB), which are available over-the-counter at any drug store. Simply clean the area with warm soap and water, apply the ointment, and cover with a sterile bandage. Repeat this morning and night. This advice is given under the assumption that the infection is still local and minor with no visible necrosis (black/green flesh around the wound), in which case it is turning septic, and you would then HAVE to go to the hospital and just pay the bill off when you can (they have to treat you, regardless). P.S. if it matters, I’m a senior med. student

yoshinewton's avatar

No, not in the USA , all antibiotics require a prescription. you need to
be sure you have right antibiotic for illness , antibiotics only work on bacteria and wrong antibiotic can make things worse

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Kraigmo's avatar

President Obama and others have greatly improved this situation for anyone who has this problem from now on. Those who truly need free healthcare are usually now eligible for free healthcare (via the Medicaid safety net that applies to a much wider population now).

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