It Is My Opinion

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Super Glue (For Lacerations, Incisions, etc.)

by Shel Funk, Monday, February 9, 2009

The Need

I had to take a trip to the hospital a couple of nights ago because of a laceration on the top of my right index finger.  It was a clean cut, no jagged edges, but it was a bleeder and I figured that it would require two or three stitches.

Much to my surprise, the ER doctor, after thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the wounded area, looked at me and said, “This is a very clean cut, I think we will just use some glue on it.” He must have seen the “what the ….” in my eyes because he quickly added, “Its made for clean cuts like yours. Don’t worry, it’s FDA approved …. it’s just sort of like a ‘super glue’ for skin.”

He opened this little package that had some antiseptic ointment and a small tube. He then applied the ointment to the effected area of my finger and then opened the tube and applied its contents directly to the laceration and kept some pressure on the area for a few seconds. He then said I should hold my finger up and before I know it a nurse would come along and splint it and put some gauze around the affected area … and then added something about not playing with knives.

So here I am, a couple of days later, my finger is glued back together, the splint and gauze is off (I got tired of poking myself in the eye) and it feels OK to type with … so I thought I should research the product that he used (Dermabond) and let you know about it too.

The Research

As it turns out, there are at least seven “topical skin adhesives” on the market that have approved by the FDA for use on humans. The difference between these FDA approved products and over-the-counter super glues  is that over-the-counter super glues contain methyl alcohol ( inexpensive to produce) and those products deemed safe for use on humans use cyanoacrylates to cure   a chemical reaction called polymerization). The methyl alcohol that is in the over-the-counter super glues may actually cause the skin to burn and is one of the reasons that it is not recommended for use on human skin.

Rather than give you the list of available products I will give you the url I used to research them.

I have called several drug stores and have found that these products are not available over-the-counter or by prescription. The reason for this is that the manufacturers fear that some people would try putting the product “inside” of lacerations and  this could cause some severe problems … best left in the hands of the trained professional.

However, drug stores do carry, over-the-counter, liquid bandage. These products do not contain the bonding agents used in glue products but will cover scrapes and abrasions with a strong, flexible, almost invisible bandage.

Liquid bandage can never fully replace the band aids and gauze that we have all grown up with … but it  certainly has its place the first aid kit. One clear advantage is that you don’t have to struggle to open it up like you do with bandaids … I swear, I could bleed to death before I can get a banaid unwrapped. And you don’t have to use any antiseptic … that’s built into the product … but do clean the wound first. Liquid bandage is also water proof … so you can go swimming or take a shower with it on. But the product clearly states that its use is for minor scrapes and abrasions.

Band-Aid makes a liquid bandage product that requires just one application. They also offer a gel-based product that can fill in and protect skin cracks. The liquid or gel barrier keeps out dirt and germs which can help prevent infection.

So that’s the scoop. The next time you go to the ER for stitches you might just need to be glued up. Also, should you require surgery down the road (I hope not), you might find glue when you wake up instead of those ugly, itchy stitches … the scar will be less noticeable, too.


February 9, 2009 - Posted by | Health

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