Paul Horvath, M.D.
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Super glue has a long track record of fixing things that are broken. But what happens when that broken thing is you? Could you use super glue on yourself?
Do I recommend using household super glue to close a wound instead of seeking proper medical treatment?
Have people been successfully using super glue to close up small cuts?
First and foremost, if you have been injured, it is recommended that you seek proper medical attention.
At Mayo Clinic Health System, we try to make a trip to the Emergency Department as pleasant as possible. One way we have been doing this has been by using a form of super glue (skin adhesive) in place of stitches to close a wound.
Here’s why we use skin adhesive instead of stitches:
- It is less painful.
- There are no needle pokes.
- It is a faster procedure.
- Often, it does not require a follow-up visit, saving you another trip to the doctor.
- It does not require sedation.
If you’re a parent reading this, read the last bullet point one more time.
I often see parents bring their child to the Emergency Department needing stitches, and the child becomes fearful. Children may need to be kept still, either by their parents or by sedating medications, for procedure. Parents don’t want their child sedated, and I don’t want to sedate him or her. Skin adhesive allows us to keep needles out of the procedure, limit scarring, and get you and your child in and out of the Emergency Department as quickly as possible.
Skin adhesive is an alternative that can be as effective as stitches when used on the appropriate wound. Usually, that means a small wound; not very deep or wide; not “dirty” or prone to infection; and not on highly mobile parts, such as joints. If the cut meets these criteria, an option for treatment is to use skin adhesive in order to close the wound.
Adhesive use on the face is especially helpful cosmetically. Because the skin on the face isn’t as tight as it is in other places, skin adhesive seals wounds without increased risk of unsightly scarring in the end.
Wounds around the mouth, feet and hands are places on the body that are constantly moving. In these areas, sutures work better.
After you’ve had the adhesive applied:
- Do not pick at it!
- Do not use antibiotic ointments over the skin adhesive, as it will dissolve the glue.
Following these two rules of skin adhesive care will allow the wound to heal and get you or your child active again.
Ultimately, the best outcome for you or your child can be assured by visiting a health care provider who can properly treat the wound. Super glue can be a viable option if used under the right circumstances (small and clean cut, not too deep and not infectious). If you choose to use household super glue or even over-the-counter adhesive products, do so with caution and full understanding of the risks, including infection and scarring.