9 Common Conditions That Can Be Treated at Urgent Care

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  • If you meant to chop an onion but sliced your finger instead, should you head to the emergency room or to urgent care for stitches? Your cost-effective choice might be urgent care. These clinics treat minor accidents like lacerations and medical conditions like bronchitis and UTI at a fraction of the cost of an emergency room visit–and often with a shorter wait time, too. You may also choose urgent care for conditions treated by primary care providers, like allergies or wound care.

    If you believe your injury is serious or potentially life threatening, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room. But in other cases, try urgent care for the following minor emergencies and medical conditions.

  • 1
    Wounds and Lacerations
    Close-up of wound being stitched or sutured

    If you cut your finger with a kitchen knife, bash your thumb with a hammer, or drop something heavy on your big toe, head to your local urgent care clinic for treatment. Urgent care providers are qualified to treat most types of skin wounds and cuts. They can stitch the skin back together, take an X-ray to see if a bone is broken, and evaluate any minor scrapes or sores on your body. They also might give you a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotics to prevent an infection in the wound.

  • 2
    Sprains, Strains and Suspected Broken Bones
    Close-up of young African American boy's wrist or hand being wrapped in bandage

    Weekend warriors, do-it-yourselfers, and parents with kids at home all should know the location of their nearest urgent care clinic. It’s a good place to have minor injuries evaluated and treated. The urgent care provider can take an X-ray to determine if a bone is broken; set it and put a cast on it, if required; or refer you to the emergency room for complex fractures that may require surgery.

  • 3
    Nausea or Diarrhea
    Unidentified woman holding stomach with pain, IBS, Crohn's or diarrhea

    If you develop nausea or diarrhea and can’t get a same-day appointment with your primary care provider, the clinicians at an urgent care clinic can evaluate and treat the problem. For sensitive patients, such as infants or older adults, rapidly diagnosing the cause of diarrhea can be crucial to avoid life-threatening dehydration, which makes an urgent care clinic a good choice for this condition.  The clinic also can help you figure out what’s causing your nausea and provide treatment recommendations. After an urgent care visit, parents should take children to a follow-up appointment with their pediatrician.

  • 4
    Allergies
    Young African American woman sneezing into tissue

    People with known anaphylactic reactions to certain triggers, such as a bee sting allergy, should always proceed directly to the emergency room or call 9-1-1 for immediate medical treatment. But for many other allergic reactions, urgent care providers can offer treatment that reduces the severity of symptoms. If you experience an allergic reaction with symptoms like hives and itching, or an allergic skin rash like poison ivy, you can seek care at an urgent care clinic.

  • 5
    Bronchitis or Coughing
    Young Hispanic man sick in bed with cough due to cold, flu or bronchitis

    Coughing can be a symptom of many medical conditions, including bronchitis and pneumonia. The healthcare providers at an urgent care clinic can diagnose and treat coughing in all age groups. If you have chronic bronchitis, you can seek care for a worsening cough at an urgent care center, too. However, sudden, severe worsening of asthma or any sort of difficulty breathing requires immediate intervention and should always be considered a medical emergency.

  • 6
    Insect Bites and Rashes
    Close-up of middle age woman's hands scratching forearm

    An urgent care clinic can offer excellent care for mysterious bumps and rashes on the skin. These providers often can determine if an insect bite is responsible for that painful or itchy welt, or if a brush with poison ivy caused that flaming rash. Once the problem has been diagnosed, an urgent care clinician can recommend treatment, ranging from over-the-counter skin creams to prescription medications. If necessary, urgent care providers may refer you to a dermatologist for further evaluation.

  • 7
    Cold and Flu-like Symptoms
    Woman on couch in background home sick sneezing or coughing with tissues on coffee table

    Is it the flu? Is it a cold? Could it be a sinus infection? Instead of trying to self-diagnose your headache, fever and nasal congestion, head to urgent care. The providers there can determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend the appropriate treatment, from rest and fluids to prescription antibiotics. Many people choose urgent care to diagnose their sinusitis, flu, pneumonia and seasonal allergies. No need to go to the emergency room for those.

  • 8
    Vaginitis
    Close-up of woman's feet on bathmat on bathroom floor

    Many women experience vaginal itching and discharge from time to time. And when it happens, no one wants to wait a long time for an appointment to see a gynecologist. Instead, you can seek treatment for vaginitis at an urgent care clinic. The providers there can diagnose the cause of any vaginal discharge or itching and recommend treatment, whether an over-the-counter cream or a prescription medication.

  • 9
    Urinary Tract Infection or Bladder Infection
    sign for public restroom

    Painful urination can plague both men and women, and it can feel like an emergency when urinary frequency and pressure cause severe discomfort. But instead of going to the ER for these symptoms, you can seek out an urgent care clinic. Urgent care providers can take a urine sample and test it on the spot to determine if you have a common infection that can be treated with antibiotics.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Oct 9
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
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