Do I need to see a doctor?
March 24, 2020 1:41 PM   Subscribe

I have a painful swelling on my labia majora, the skin on my upper thigh is irritated, and a nearby lymph node is swollen and painful. It feels like I've been punched in a lymph node, basically. I would really like to not have to contact a doctor right now.

This is in the UK and the NHS is getting completely overwhelmed. I hate to use up precious resources. In addition to this I have been staying in and self isolating and would prefer to keep doing that if possible. My housemate has symptoms of coronavirus and so I absolutely must self isolate until Saturday but would prefer to go beyond this.

I'm trying to figure out the risk of waiting this out vs going in. I'm also wondering whether this could be a symptom of coronavirus in me - i.e. a weakened immune system from the virus has led to some sort of infection.

My mother has offered me some antibiotics she got from her dentist last month but didn't take. In normal times I would never consider taking someone else's antibiotics but these aren't normal times. What would you do?
posted by hazyjane to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
I have to admit I am not familiar with the NHS system, but in the US I would be emailing my doctor and asking for advice. Even in less trying times my doctor has been happy to prescribe this way. A lot of doctors are also doing telemedicine appointments. Is that sort of thing an option at all for you?
posted by brainmouse at 1:45 PM on March 24, 2020 [3 favorites]

A lot of medical practices in the UK have a portal for ordering repeat prescriptions and booking appointments. Mine has the option to book a telephone appointment (maybe it also has an option to leave a message - it's been a while since I looked). I'd try that, or else just call reception and see what they advise - probably a telephone appt. This is a good time to do that, depending on where you are in the UK. Better now than in a week or two, almost certainly.
posted by pipeski at 1:51 PM on March 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm not a doctor. This sounds like it might be a Bartholin's Cyst. You could try in the meantime having a bath a few times a day or otherwise soaking it in warm water.
posted by slightlybewildered at 2:03 PM on March 24, 2020 [12 favorites]

Mark the edge of the swelling where it is now. Mark the location of the swollen lymph node. This way, if it becomes more swollen, you can easily tell. Photograph the area and the marks you add, if you can.

Get in touch with your docctor's office. GP, Gyn, or Dermatologist may all be appropriate folks to reach out to at this point, since you have irritated skin, and it's near your genitals. You may be asked to share photos of the area with the doctor to make a further decision.

Please do not take the antibiotics your mom offered. Dosing and length of regimen is very specific to condition, and the only person qualified to suggest antibiotics to you is your physician.
posted by bilabial at 2:12 PM on March 24, 2020 [7 favorites]

Hi. This sounds pants. You can and should call your GP; mine was not particularly overwhelmed. But you can also call a GUM/Sexual Health clinic near you -- they will not be overrun and will also be able to help you, and advise about timing with regard to self-isolation. But call tomorrow to arrange the care you need.

In the meanwhile, you can take sitz baths and use hot compresses and take neurofen/paracetamol.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:20 PM on March 24, 2020 [13 favorites]

Nthing a call to your GP surgery - mine has closed its physical doors but has telephone appointments available on the usual schedule. People with CV-related queries are all being directed to 111, so by going to your GP instead you shouldn't be diverting resources from the CV effort. You deserve healthcare! There's no benefit to taking your mum's antibiotics that you couldn't get from talking to your GP and having them prescribe you antibiotics of your own, appropriate for your condition, if it turns out that's what you need.
posted by penguin pie at 3:08 PM on March 24, 2020

I am a doctor but not your doctor. We are doing teleconsults here. Call your doctor and ask for a teleconsult; consider taking a photo of the affected area on your phone in case (no identifying details or actual genitalia need be included, careful towel placement is fine). Here we are faxing antibiotic scripts to local pharmacies for pickup but you can likely get someone else to pick them up and drop them off for you.
posted by quercus23 at 4:12 PM on March 24, 2020 [1 favorite]

My GP's surgery has moved to telephone appointments only, and yours may have too - it might be worth giving them a call. Covid patients generally aren't (or shouldn't be) going through the GP system so in theory they shouldn't be any more overwhelmed than usual...
posted by altolinguistic at 3:15 AM on March 25, 2020

in theory they shouldn't be any more overwhelmed than usual...

Or, potentially, much much less overwhelmed.

I live in a town in Kent with two GPs' surgeries, both usually very busy. I needed to see a doctor this time last week, and my internet was out (great timing), so I walked over to the practice where I'm registered. I was expecting to get there to find a sign on the door telling people to go away and call for an online or telephone appointment, but it was open as usual. Inside, everything had been rearranged to filter people past a new reception desk, with hand sanitiser, before they'd make it into the waiting room. Signs up everywhere, DO NOT PASS THIS POINT WITHOUT SPEAKING TO RECEPTION, DO NOT PASS THIS POINT WITHOUT USING HAND SANITISER. I told the receptionist why I was there, again expecting to be told to go away and book a telephone appointment, and instead she booked me straight into Urgent Care. The waiting room was completely empty, which was downright eerie. I was called in straight away.

Obviously, a week is a long time right now, and I imagine I'd have had a very different experience if it hadn't been for the practice having an Urgent Care facility - but it's definitely worth checking your surgery's website or giving them a ring to find out what the score is.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 4:54 AM on March 25, 2020

Hot compresses, as hot as you can stand cleared a bartholin's gland blockage for someone I know. The situation was distressing her very much as it had caused an erect clitoris which was much more sensory overwhelming than the lump in the labia itself.

There is absolutely no reason to think that this is Covid19 related, more likely the result of rationing the toilet paper. It can happen at any time however and is not necessarily caused by a glitch in hygiene. While COVID19 can cause swollen lymph nodes, it seems to do so when the patient is so sick they are unable to walk around and probably delirious. It's a stage three cytokine storm symptom. If you can make a post to ask about it, that's not what is going on.
posted by Jane the Brown at 5:25 AM on March 25, 2020

So I went onto my GP's website last night and found they had a secure messaging facility I could use. I described my symptoms and asked about antibiotics. Just after lunchtime today the receptionist rang me to say the doctor had prescribed antibiotics for me and they were ready at my neighboring pharmacy. I got a friend to go get them and I've started taking them. So thanks everyone for the advice it helped a lot.
posted by hazyjane at 11:48 AM on March 25, 2020 [5 favorites]

Please only read this if the antibiotics don't work and the pain/swelling persists:

Many people in my cancer support groups initially discovered our cancers from painful & swollen lymph nodes (I did - although mine were the underarm ones, not lower body). And - sorry - once the cancer has spread to the nodes it's regionally advanced (I was stage 3c; stage 4 is terminal) meaning you need treatment right away. The sensation of being punched is exactly what mine felt like. Hope this isn't your situation & it clears up soon.
posted by CancerSucks at 10:49 PM on March 26, 2020

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