My answer is “It depends.” I’ve applied Super Glue on heel cracks and on minor cuts, and it works really well. Its wound-sealing attributes were noted in the Vietnam War, when medics used it before sending troops on to surgery. The glue stems bleeding and has been used for that by athletes and veterinarians to deal with small cuts. Some dermatologists recommend a different brand, Krazy Glue, to seal paper cuts. I’ve also heard that stringed-instrument players sometimes make protective “fingertip caps” out of the glue.
These glues are made from the chemical cyanoacrylate. In addition to its usefulness in stopping bleeding in a pinch, it has been associated with less scarring than other methods of closing wounds. But it has some downsides: it can irritate skin, kill cells, and aggravate infections. If you check the medical literature on cyanoacrylate, you will find many references to its accidental use as eye drops, eardrops or nose drops – with predictably unfortunate results. The accidents may have to do with the resemblance between glue containers and other plastic dispenser bottles.
There is a safer alternative. In 2001, the Food and Drug Administration approved a similar, antibacterial version of this adhesive. Called Dermabond, and containing the substance 2-octyl-cyanoacrylate, this product costs about $20 (compared to about $2 for the household repair versions) and is used by surgeons to close small incisions. It is available to consumers only by prescription. Dermabond is not considered appropriate for use on animal bites, severely contaminated wounds, ulcers, puncture wounds, mucous membranes or moist body areas such as the groin and underarms. But it can be used on many hand, foot and other cuts as long as you can keep these areas dry and immobilized. Dermabond peels off in five to 10 days.
If you decide to use cyanoacrylate on minor cuts, pinch the wound edges together and then dab some on the cut (don’t dab with your finger since it will stick to the cut). If you do get the glue on your fingers and they stick together, roll them against each other slowly and gently – eventually, the bond will break.
Never use cyanoacrylate on your lips, genitals, cuts over joints, forehead or other tight skin, animal bites, or deep cuts.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Thomas B. Bruns and J. Mack Worthington, “Using Tissue Adhesive for Wound Repair: A Practical Guide to Dermabond.” American Family Physician, March 1, 2000.