Super Glue for first aid
By Tom Zavelson, M.D.

When cyanoacrylate (Super Glue) hit the market it became progressively clear to some of us that this stuff might be used  to close some types of lacerations of the skin.  After all, Super Glue was essentially sterile in an unopened tube, generally nonirritating to the skin, had incredible adherent properties, and was inexpensive and easy to use. It was soon thereafter that a simple variant of cyanoacrylate was licensed in Europe and Canada for this very purpose.  Several years ago the FDA approved a similar product (Dermabond) in the U.S.

I always recommend having several unopened tubes of Super Glue in your first aid kit to be used for the primary closure of relatively straight, clean, lacerations that cannot be closed with a butterfly bandage or Steri-Strip and when there is no access to sutures.  Additionally, this method should only be used within 1-2 hours of the injury. DO NOT use this method for cuts where there is a high likelihood of bacteria and never for human or animal bites.  Keep in mind that sutures will allow the wound to “breathe” whereas this method “seals” the wound.  If bacteria are in the wound, there is a good likelihood that it will become infected.

How to Use:

1.The wound needs to be cleaned, at a minimum with soap and clean water and ideally with a surgical scrub solution such as Povidine – Iodine.  Flush or irrigate the wound first with clean water and then use the antibacterial cleaning solution.

2. Pat the area dry with sterile gauze or at least a clean cloth.

3. Using your fingers, push or bring the edges of the laceration together so as to oppose one side against the other. Be certain to keep your  fingers far enough back to avoid gluing them also to the skin.

4. Starting at one end of the laceration, apply a thin layer of Super Glue along the entire wound.  Wait about 20-30 seconds and reapply a second layer and after another 20-30 seconds, a third.

5. Release your finger pressure.  The wound edges should remain together. You may desire to place a bandage around or over the wound for some additional pressure but usually this is not necessary. Do not completely cover the wound with a bandage – just use it for support if needed.

6. It is all right to get the area wet within reason but do not scrub the area.

7. Most wounds treated in this manner should be “healed” in 4 to 5 days.

8. If Super Glue gets in the eyes, vigorously flush with water.

9 As with any type of laceration, seek medical attention at the first sign of infection (i.e. heat at the site, redness, tenderness, swelling and/or pus) or continued bleeding.

10. If the wound is received more than 5 years after the last Tetanus immunization,  a Tetanus shot is necessary within the next 48 – 72 hours.


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