Ross's email reminded me of superglue. I’ve used it this week as well to fix a small cut. My nephew had a cut in his head a few weeks ago fixed at the local ER with ordinary hardware store superglue.
Superglue is ethyl-cyanoacrylate. While butyl-cyanoacrylate is the improved, proper use medical superglue, ordinary superglue (ethyl-cyanoacrylate) works for small cuts and its used here in third world hospitals. I know lots of doctors and nurses that use it so its safe to say that in spite of being a bit irritant its ok for small wounds.
How to use it
When I first heard of superglue being used for cuts I thought it was interesting but didn’t quite understand how you’re supposed to use it. Since then I’ve done a bit or reading, including a very interesting piece of research by an orthodontists that used superglue to fix a severely injured lip. I’ve also been using it myself when I got cut so this is how I’ve been using it:
1) It must be a small/moderate wound, less than an 3/4 inch deep and no longer than two inches. We’re closing the skin here, anything deeper and more serious requires medical attention.
2)Clean the wound thoroughly with soap and water. You dont want to leave dirt inside the wound you’re about to close.
3) Dry and make sure you’ve stopped the bleeding. I’ve had good results (specially with fingers) by rasing the wound over my head. A bit of pressure helps too. Apply pressure for a couple minutes. A small amount of bleeding is ok, but you can’t have blood streaming out of the wound you’re trying to fix.
4)Use your fingers to bring the two sides of the wound together and place glue along the cut. Try to be as neat as possible and don´t use more glue than needed. I found out that the cleaner the cut, the easier it is to glue shut and it leaves almost no scar. Some glue will come into contact with the exposed wound even when bringing both sides together. Its not a problem. As the wound closes it will expel that bit of glue and it eventually peals off.
5) Once glue is placed all along the wound, keep both sides together for 3 minutes until the glue dries.
Note: If during an emergency you’re forced to do something like this with a larger wound, you want to leave one end not completely glued shut. This is because large wounds will have some infection and puss, and you want a way to drain it. During an accident my son had in his leg, we drained puss for at least two weeks until the wound healed. Of course you need a doctor for such a wound but I’m just telling you what to expect.
Note II: Keep an eye on the wound for any signs of infection. A bit of redness is acceptable, but if it gets warm to touch and the red color spreads you know the infection is getting worse and you need antibiotics and medical help as soon as possible.
None of this is medical advice, just a household tip or two on how you may deal with a small cut during an emergency.