Saturday, February 19, 2011

Superglue for Small Wounds

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.

Take care!



Aron said...

I think you should also mention Betadine.
I disinfects perfectly and does it without pain. Kids will love it instead of alcohol!
In a SHTF situation, I would put a few drops of it into deeper woulds as well, rather than risk a serious infection. (I always put some on the smaller wounds I treat at home)
It also works against fungi.

John Peterson said...

There are several types of cyanacrolates. Those marketed as super glue, crazy glue, etc.. are not the best for wounds because of heating, formaldehyde byproducts, and skin irritation. In the US, there are several cyanacrolates for use on wounds. I love New Skin and I know Band-aid brand has another similar brand out.

Also, Aron, thanks for the comment on Betadine. I'll add that to the medicine cabinet.


John Peterson said...

Oh, I should mention we're currently using Hydrogen Peroxide for small wounds, scrapes, and cuts. I checked out how that compares to Betadine and they're pretty close. Betadine has the edge with deeper wounds though. I'll probably keep using Hydrogen Peroxide for small wounds and Betadine for anything bigger.


Unknown said...

Superglue works fine, I've used it many times & keep a tube in my car's first aid kit.

Petroleum jelly, or Vaseline, actually heals small wounds fastest, in my experience.

Anonymous said...

Use the Super Glue GEL. Works great on ALL wounds. Works greats on tear, cuts, punctures, etc.

Works great on our dogs.

We always have multiple tubes in each of our med kits. We have SEVERAL med kits.

Also, several other things you might want to also know about.

We use loads of vet supplies for our first aid kit. Vet wrap is an EXCELLENT flexible bandage and works great on pets or humans and cheaper than cloth wrap bandages - which also will need athletic tape to keep the cloth tape in place - we buy this by the case.

Also consider 'Underwrap' which is a light weight bandage that is a great replacement for lighter cloth bandage wraps. Much cheaper than cloth.

Also, there is flexible cloth wrap TAPE that is helpful if you have pets that are problematic with wounds (one of ours is).

Plus you would be surprised at how many of human meds are taken by pets. AND the pet meds (the same med) ARE MUCH CHEAPER. Plus you can get human meds much cheaper at places like Walmart. We get one med from Walmart for about half what our vet could sell it to us for. HE TOLD US to go to Walmart.

jim w
Denver, Co

Anonymous said...

I have dermabond in my large first aid kit. Medical grade - about $10 per (tiny) vial. I tested it on a cut that was marginal for needing stitches - it works great and lasts for 2 weeks compared to only days for superglue. There are also less costly dermabond alternatives available but still designed for skin and less chance of irritation. Source? A local medical supply company.

Anonymous said...

EMT Gel. Used it on my dogs, and me. It says it works with the blood to form a plug and encourages natural blood clot formation.

I have used it on my cuts (less than 3mm deep.

I am not a medical pro, so YMMV.

Anonymous said...

Well, since 'natural' clotting was mentioned, we always keep cayenne capsules 1000 IU's on hand. I take one before going to my dentist - on a side note kiddies, PLEASE take care of your teeth, that way you are not putting your dentists grandkids through school - sorry. ANYWAY, cayenne pepper is a great blood clotting agent. YOU CAN use it topically (into open wound) but dang man, it DOES burn. Have you ever gotten jalpeno juice in a cut on your finger? Same thing only hurts worse. But it does clot the wound.


Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing this post with us...its really very nice and use full information....Super Glue or Cyanoacrylate.