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Lacerations - liquid bandage

Skin adhesives; Tissue adhesive; Skin cut - liquid bandage; Wound - liquid bandage

A laceration is a cut that goes all the way through the skin. A small cut can be cared for at home. A large cut requires immediate medical attention.

If the cut is minor, a liquid bandage (liquid adhesive) can be used on the cut to close the wound and help stop bleeding.

Using a liquid bandage is quick to apply. It causes only slight burning when applied. Liquid bandages seal the cut closed after only 1 application. There is less chance for infection since the wound is sealed shut.

These products are waterproof, so you can shower or bathe without worry.

The seal lasts for 5 to 10 days. It will fall off naturally after it has done its job. In some cases after the seal falls off, you can reapply more liquid bandage, but only after seeking medical advice from your health care provider. But most minor cuts will be mostly healed at this point.

Using these products may also reduce the size of scars that form at the injury site. Liquid skin adhesives can be found at your local pharmacy.

Applying and Caring for a Liquid Bandage

With clean hands or a clean towel, wash the cut and surrounding area thoroughly with cold water and soap. Dry with a clean towel or gauze pad. Make sure the site is completely dry.

The liquid bandage should not be placed inside the wound; it should be placed on top of the skin, where the cut comes together.

  • Create a seal by gently bringing the cut together with your fingers.
  • Apply the liquid bandage over the top of the cut. Spread it from one end of the cut to the other, covering the cut completely.
  • Hold the cut together for about a minute to give the adhesive enough time to dry.

Do not use liquid bandage around the eyes, in the ear or nose, or internally in the mouth. If the liquid bandage is accidentally applied to any of these areas, call your doctor or provider or 911 or the local emergency number.

It is OK to bathe after the liquid adhesive has dried. Try not to scrub the site. Doing so may loosen the seal or even remove the adhesive completely. It is also OK to wash the site with soap and water daily to keep the area clean and prevent infection. Pat the site dry after washing.

Do not use any other ointments on the site of the cut. This will weaken the bond and slow the healing process.

Do not scratch or scrub the site. This will remove the liquid bandage.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Prevent the wound from reopening by keeping activity to a minimum.
  • Make sure your hands are clean when you care for the wound.
  • Take proper care of your wound to help reduce scarring.
  • Call your provider if you have questions or concerns about how to care for stitches or staples at home.
  • You can take pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, as directed for pain at the wound site.
  • Follow-up with your provider to make sure the wound is healing properly.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or provider right away if:

  • There is any redness, pain, or yellow pus around the injury. This could mean there is an infection.
  • There is bleeding at the injury site that will not stop after 10 minutes of direct pressure.
  • You have new numbness or tingling around the wound area or beyond it.
  • You have a fever of 100°F (38.3°C) or higher.
  • There is pain at the site that will not go away even after taking pain medicine.
  • The wound has split open.

References

Beard JM, Osborn J. Common office procedures. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 28.

Lammers RL, Scrimshaw LE. Methods of wound closure. In: Roberts JR, Custalow CB, Thomsen TW, eds. Roberts and Hedges' Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine and Acute Care. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 35.

Simon BC, Hern HG. Wound management principles. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 52.


 

Review Date: 1/1/2022

Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, CPE, FAAEM, FACEP, Attending Physician at Kaiser Permanente, Orange County, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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