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How do I care for a wound treated with skin glue?

Doctors and nurses sometimes use skin glue to close wounds. There are some simple steps you can take to help your wound heal.

Skin glue is a special medical glue used to close wounds. It can be used on its own or with stitches or adhesive tape. It forms a protective waterproof covering over your wound.

When is skin glue used?

Skin glue is usually used for cuts or wounds that:

  • are small or minor
  • are up to 5cm long
  • have straight edges that can be easily pulled together

Skin glue is often used to close wounds on:

  • the face or head
  • some parts of the arms and legs
  • the trunk of the body (torso)

Skin glue isn't suitable for wounds over joints, like your knees, groin or hands.

How long does skin glue stay on?

Skin glue is applied as a liquid or paste to the edges of the wound.

It takes only a few minutes to set.

The glue usually peels off in 5 to 7 days.

The scar should take about 6 months to fade.

How to care for a wound closed with skin glue

Your doctor or nurse will give you advice about caring for a wound closed with skin glue.

General advice:

  • avoid touching the glue for 24 hours
  • try to keep the wound dry for the first 5 days
  • showers are preferable to baths to avoid soaking the wound
  • use a shower cap if the wound is on the head
  • pat the wound dry if it gets wet – don't rub it

If the wound is on your head, you should be able to wash your hair after 5 days.

Things to avoid during the first 5 days:

  • don't stick a plaster on the skin glue
  • don't put creams or lotions on the glue
  • don't wear clothing that could rub against the glue
  • don't pick at the glued area
  • don't brush hair around glued area

When to get help

Most wounds closed with skin glue heal normally.

You should seek medical attention if:

  • your wound splits open or starts to bleed
  • you think your wound may be infected

You might have an infection if:

  • the wound becomes more red or swollen
  • the pain or soreness in your wound gets worse
  • pus or blood leaks from your wound
  • you have a temperature of 38C (100.4F) or over

Contact your GP or practice nurse for advice, or go to an NHS walk-in centre.

You can also call NHS 111.

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