SuperGlue to Close Wounds

 

Medical Cyanoacrylate glues can help close a wound with less scarring, no suture marks and less discomfort. However there are pitfalls that need to be avoided.

NEVER apply the glue inside a wound. It is not absorbable, and if used inside a wound will leave fish-scale-like foreign bodies that will extrude from the wound months later. If the glue on the skin penetrates between the wound edges, the new skin will grow under and around the glue, leaving permanent deep creases in the scar.

Do not seal the wound edges completely. Gaps between the glue ‘spots’ must be left to allow body fluid to leak out between the gaps. If the wound is sealed, the fluids will accumulate under the skin, with haematoma or even abscess formation.

The glue should be applied as ‘dots’ of glue crossing over the wound edges, and must not penetrate between the skin edges. Hold the skin edges together firmly when the glue is applied, and do not move till the glue has set, then move onto the next dot.

Do not depend on glue only, unless the wound is very shallow. Use a deep layer of sutures to provide strength and almost closure, with the glue only holding the skin edges.

Be extraordinarily careful around the eyes as the glue can cause severe problems if spilt in the eyes or on the eyelid margins.

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Now here is a tip on closing wounds in the scalp using the infinitely cheaper hardware-store style of ordinary SuperGlue. These can often be purchased in strips of multiple small single use tubes costing a mere 50c each, compared to $25-$50 for medical glue.

This glue CANNOT be used in the same way that the medical variety is used. It gives off fumes that irritate the eye and nasal mucous membranes. It should never be used to try and close wounds the way medical glue is used.

Medical glue sets as soon as it comes into contact with protein, and it will set if merely placed on the skin. Ordinary superglue sets only when air is excluded where the 2 items to be glued are pressed together.  This difference can be used to close scalp wounds in a manner that is pain-free, especially useful in children. 

The 3 phot
os here show a large wound of the scalp. I used the adjacent hair to pull the wound edges together, then placed ordinary non-medical superglue a short distance away from the wound, and pressed the bunch of hair into the superglue while holding the wound edges together (avoid sticking yourself to the patient!). The glue immediately sets, holding the wound together. Several bunches of hair can be glued across the wound to close it. When the wound has hair on both sides of the wound, a bunch of hair from each side can be twisted together, and a drop of glue
applied to the hair as the 2 bunches cross each other, but not in such a way that the glue can get into the wound.