Re: Super Glue in 1st aid kits
Bob Amick (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Thu, 10 Sep 1998 20:38:50 -0500
Super glue, chemically known as cyanoacrylate, was actually developed
as an adhesive designed for use in dental surgery. It did not receive
approval for use by the FDA, however, and was relegated to non-medical
use. The advantage was that it sets virtually instantly, especially
in the presence of moisture, and has remarkable strength. Those who have
been working with it and have occasion to touch a finger to a nostril or
eyelid have found out "the hard way" just how well and quickly it bonds."
I know of one case where a person actually managed to glue both her
eyelids shut while rubbing her eyes after using super glue on a
Since it was developed as a medical adhesive, it is probably not
considered toxic, however, it was nonetheless disapproved for surgical
use, so using it for closing wounds would be questionable at best.
If you want to use it on yourself or a member of your immediate family,
and they agree to such use, there would be no liability; however
if you plan to use it on Scouts or others, I would recommend discussing
that with a Physician. My sense is that such treatment would be considered
inappropriate and subject you to liability since such procedures are
considered outside the accepted "standard
of care" as provided in most certified first aid programs.
As far as using super-glue for medical applications as an alternative to
steri-strips or butterfly bandages, I would agree with the post suggesting
"sealing" any wound without proper cleansing and disinfection can
increase the risk of anaerobic infections (e.g., tetanus and gangrene)
especially for those who are not currently or properly immunized. This
would also apply if you are using "steri-strips" or butterfly bandages
which achieve the same effect, although they don't completely seal the
skin edges and allow for some drainage/oxygenation which would not occur if
glue were used.
Tetanus boosters are of course recommended at no less than 10-year intervals,
or when a signficant wound is treated if the most
recent booster has been quite a while back and/or there is no clear
of the last known booster.
Except for those situations where wounds occur during remote treks
in wilderness areas, access to physicians and hospitals for wound
care requiring sutures is readily available and preferable to "field
In wilderness situations, it is difficult to properly clean and disinfect
wounds, so cleaning and dressing them without closing the wound edges, thus
leaving them exposed to oxygen is preferable; even though they
will probably scar more than if they were closed with sutures or
I highly recommend Dr. William Forgey's book on "Wilderness Medicine" for more
in-depth discussion of field/wilderness first aid and wound care.
Bob Amick, EMT-B, Advisor, High Adventure Explorer/Venture Crew 72/SSS 72,
Boulder, CO; Longs Peak Council Exploring/Venturing Training Chair
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City