Dermabond Surgical Skin Glue

Dermabond (2-octyl-cyanoacrylate) is one of the only surgical glues that is FDA approved for use on humans. It comes in sterile, single-use applicators and is the glue of choice for surgeons closing incisions after an operation. It is sterile, nontoxic, produces very little heat as it cures, remains flexible after hardening, hardens in about 30 seconds, and is as strong as 5-0 stitches[1].

Because of its many benefits, Dermabond is the most expensive surgical glue on the market. In order to be labeled as sterile for medical use it is sold in .7mL (.02oz), single-use applicators. A glass seal has to be broken before using each applicator, and any glue left inside will harden, becoming unusable.

See here for more information on other surgical glues.

Index:

How to Use Dermabond:

Dermabond comes in a single-use applicator. To open, point the applicator downwards, squeeze the bulb to break the inner glass container, then squeeze again to moisten the internal filter.

First try to make sure the cut is clean. If everything works out, the cut will heal completely without the Dermabond needing to be removed. Bleeding pushes dirt and bacteria out of the wound site and prevents infection, so if the cut is bleeding there is less chance of infection; use your best judgement. Stop the bleeding with sterile gauze and direct pressure to the cut. If the cut is on a joint, move the body so the skin is slack. For example, if there is a gash on your knee, straighten your leg to relieve the tension on the cut.

While keeping pressure on the wound, slide the gauze off the wound site to expose the edge of the cut. Try to line up the wound edges as accurately as possible, and apply Dermabond to the wound. Wait until the glue has hardened enough to stop the bleeding, and then repeat the process down the length of the cut until it is completely glued.

Dermabond only requires one layer for maximum strength, unlike Vetbond. Use medical tape or butterfly stitches to pull the skin together around the wound after the glue is dry, relieving any tension if possible.

While you're applying the glue to a cut it will probably still be bleeding despite your best efforts. Some of the glue might wash away or mix with blood to form a big hard clump. This is normal and won't stop the wound from healing properly. Even if it looks messy, as long as the bleeding stops, it's okay. The glue will slough off by itself over the course of 5 - 7 days.

Do not apply more than a thin layer to prevent the glue from running.

Try to keep the glued area dry while the cut is healing. Surgical glue is resistant to water, but it will slough off faster if it's being held in the shower or washing dishes. Do not put triple antibiotic ointment (Neosporin) on top of the glue, as triple antibiotic ointment is petroleum based and causes it to dissolve.

Tips:

  1. Make sure you protect Dermabond applicators. If the glass seal breaks, the glue will dry out and be unusable.
  2. Dermabond can be dissolved in minutes using triple antibiotic ointment or other petroleum based products.

Additional Resources:

  1. How to Care for a Cut Sealed with Dermabond
  2. A Guide to Dermabond
  3. Dermabond Data Sheet

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About Peter Oldani - Author of Inside First Aid

About the author

Peter Oldani graduated college with a B.S. in biomedical engineering, worked as an EMT to gain hands on experience in emergency medicine and completed active shooter training as part of New York State’s initiative to prepare civilian organizations for disaster response.