Take the 2-minute tour ×
Skeptics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for scientific skepticism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I cut myself recently and used superglue to seal the wound. I thought it was normal but when I tell people that act like I'm crazy. Then I tell them this story:

Superglue was invented during the Vietnam war to quickly seal bullet wounds without bandages. That's why it's in an "injector" shape and a single bullet hole serving.

Liquid Bandaid

I've been telling the story so long I don't even know if its true anymore and I can't remember where I first heard it. But I'm pretty sure it's based on fact.

  1. Is superglue safe for sealing wounds?
  2. Was invented specifically for this purpose?
  3. Has it ever been used as such?
share|improve this question
1  
It's a mix of fact and urban legend, this on will shed some light: straightdope.com/columns/read/2187/… –  Epistemex Jan 8 '13 at 6:34
1  
@Ken: If you copy that link into an answer, extract some of the text and give a brief summary, you will have an excellent answer. –  Oddthinking Jan 8 '13 at 8:28
    
you really shouldn't use super glue at home to close your wounds. You could be creating the potential for infection or worse by sticking a non sterile tube of glue in and around your wound, also there is greater risk that glue may contain a potentially harmful chemical since its not intended for medical use quality standards are likely lower. –  Ryathal Jan 8 '13 at 14:39
1  
@Ryathal I've found medical grade glue inferior (liquifying in water and not long lasting) but you are right: I have had infections after using non-sterile glue. I use medical glue spray to disinfect and seal the wound and then a non-sterile glue to form a protective layer so it lasts long enough to heal fully. –  Coomie Jan 9 '13 at 3:57
add comment

1 Answer

up vote 35 down vote accepted

2. Was invented specifically for this purpose?

3. Has it ever been used as such?

Short answer: No, Yes

Long answer:

In an article written by Una/Straight Dope the following is stated:

Super glue, Krazy glue, Eastman 910 and similar glues are all a special type of glue called cyanoacrylates. Cyanoacrylates were invented in 1942 by Dr. Harry Coover of Kodak Laboratories during experiments to make a special extra-clear plastic suitable for gun sights. [...] Seeing possibilities for a new adhesive, Kodak developed "Eastman #910" (later "Eastman 910") a few years later as the first true "super glue."

[...]

The use of cyanoacrylate glues in medicine was considered fairly early on. Eastman Kodak and Ethicon began studying whether the glues could be used to hold human tissue together for surgery. In 1964 Eastman submitted an application to use cyanoacrylate glues to seal wounds to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Soon afterward Dr. Coover's glue did find use in Vietnam--reportedly in 1966 cyanoacrylates were tested on-site by a specially trained surgical team, with impressive results.

1. Is superglue safe for sealing wounds?

As to current status of the component for surgical use (in USA):

[...] an improved cyanoacrylate glue was developed for medical applications called "2-octyl-cyanoacrylate." This compound causes less skin irritation and has improved flexibility and strength--at least three times the strength of the butyl-based compound (reference 2). As a result, in 1998 the FDA approved 2-octyl cyanoacrylate for use in closing wounds and surgical incisions, and in 2001 approved it for use as a "barrier against common bacterial microbes including certain staphylococci, pseudomonads, and Escherichia coli" (reference 2). This latest incarnation was marketed under the name Traumaseal as well as the more popular Dermabond.

The whole article is an interesting read, just follow the link at the top.

For the sake of future availability I include the references used in the article here:

  • Hayes, Sharon Caskey. "Discovery of Super Glue helped land Coover in National Inventors Hall of Fame," Kingsport Times-News, July 11, 2004.

  • (2) Schwade, Nathan D. "Wound Adhesives, 2-Octyl Cyanoacrylate", eMedicine article, Apr. 10, 2002

  • Vinters HV, Galil KA, Lundie MJ, Kaufmann JC: The histotoxicity of cyanoacrylates. A selective review. Neuroradiology 1985; 27(4): 279-91

  • Fernandez, Tania (Dr) and Bliskovsky, Val (Dr). "Cyanoacrylate Technology: Stay Glued," Pharmbiz.com, Jan. 2, 2003

  • Perry LC: An evaluation of acute incisional strength with Traumaseal surgical tissue adhesive wound closure. Dimensional Analysis Systems Inc.

  • Jueneman, F, "Stick it to um," Industrial Research & Development, Aug. 1981, p. 19.

  • Quinn, J., & Kissack, J., "Tissue Adhesives for Laceration Repair During Sporting Events," Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine, Vol. 4 No. 4, 1994, p. 245

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.