What is skin glue?

Skin glue is a special type of medical adhesive. It joins the edges of a wound together, while the wound starts to heal underneath.

Doctors and nurses may use skin glue to close wounds instead of other methods, such as:

  • stitches (sutures)
  • skin staples
  • adhesive tape

Skin glue can be used for children and adults.

When can skin glue be used?

Skin glue is usually used for simple cuts or wounds that:

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

Skin glue can also be used to close the edges of other wounds that may be larger. For example, over the top of stitches beneath your skin (subcutaneous stitches) or to close an incision made during an operation.

Surgeons may use skin glue after operations or procedures such as:

  • vasectomy (male sterilisation)
  • laparoscopy (a procedure that doctors use to look inside the abdomen)
  • removal of benign skin lesions
  • groin incisions for hernia operations

When is skin glue not used?

Skin glue isn’t normally used to close some types of wound. For example:

  • wounds with uneven or jagged edges
  • deep wounds
  • wounds that are bleeding
  • infected wounds
  • animal bites
  • puncture wounds
  • ulcers

Where can skin glue be used?

Skin glue can be used to treat wounds on most parts of your body, including:

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

It may be possible to use it for some wounds on your hands, feet or joints, but this will depend on where the wound is and how much pressure you put on the wound when you move.

Skin glue isn’t usually used on parts of your body that may be moist or damp, such as:

  • your lips
  • inside your mouth
  • your armpit
  • your groin