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Skin Adhesives (Liquid Stitches)

Topic Overview

Skin adhesives are clear gels that may be used to hold the edges of a small cut together. Your doctor may apply a skin adhesive instead of stitching your cut. A liquid will be applied to your skin and allowed to dry. As it dries, it creates a film that will hold together the edges of your cut.

If a skin adhesive is used, be sure to follow your doctor's instructions on how to care for your cut. In general, to care for your cut:

  • Leave the skin adhesive on your skin until it falls off—usually 5 to 10 days after it was applied.
  • Do not scratch or pick at the adhesive. This may cause the adhesive to fall off too soon.
  • Follow your doctor's instruction on keeping the wound and skin adhesive dry. You can shower with a skin adhesive in place. Be sure to gently dry the area after you shower. Avoid soaking your wound in water, such as tub bathing, washing dishes, or swimming.
  • If your doctor has applied a bandage over the wound, keep it clean and dry. Follow your doctor's instruction on changing the bandage.
  • Do not put ointments, including antibiotic ointment, over the adhesive. This can cause the adhesive to soften or come off too soon.
  • Watch for signs of infection. If signs of an infection develop, call your doctor.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised June 6, 2012

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