Using Superglue To Mend Cuts

Answered by Dr. Brian Staiger Pharm.D

Our pharmacist answers the latest question regarding the use of superglue to mend cuts.

Question

Is it okay to use superglue for cuts? I have been using superglue for years to seal the cracks in the skin of my fingertips.
By Schopp - Edited

Answer

Superglue products such as Krazy Glue can be used on occasion or if you are in a pinch for SMALL cuts such as a paper cut, or like you mentioned, if your skin cracks. You are not alone in your use of super glue. It typically helps immensely with the pain associated with small cuts and it is also beneficial for keeping dirt out of a cut until you can get to a clean location to properly tend to the wound.  Having said that, it usually is not a good idea to use it on a consistent basis or for deeper cuts for two reasons. One, it can actually delay the healing process and two, super glue can be toxic to the deeper tissues of the skin. Newer products that are intended for medical use such as New Skin (or Nu-Skin) are typically recommended over superglue because they have less issues with toxicity. 


    There is a misconception that superglue was first invented for medical use or that the medical skin adhesives are the same chemical product. Superglue, also known as cyanoacrylate, was discovered by accident in the early 1940's during the search for a new plastic gun sight during World War II. The new material happened to stick to everything it came in contact with and its commercial potential as an adhesive was realized. After its initial discovery, it was in fact used in some medical situations with negative results. It obviously worked well as an adhesive but it also caused significant tissue toxicity and inflammation on larger wounds.


    The newer medical adhesives are chemically altered from the original cyanoacrylate. They degrade much more slowly and are distinctive in their much reduced tissue toxicity. Medical adhesives are known as a butyl or octyl ester of cyanoacrylate. 


    Based on all of the above information, I always recommend the medical adhesives over plain superglue. Superglue should really only be used if necessary. If it is going to be used, it should only be on small cracks or small cuts on the skin.

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist and the founder of PharmacistAnswers.com. He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor Of Pharmacy degree in 2010.

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