Super glue does exactly what it promises: sticks fast and holds strong. It’s a go-to solution for tough breaks, working on virtually any material, including rubber, leather and plastic. But what happens when the material is your skin?
Glued skin, usually in the form of stuck fingers, is both common and fixable. But if it happens, it can be downright scary.
“The biggest thing to remember when dealing with glued skin is not to panic,” says Dr. Amber Ortega, a family medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. “Glue is rarely dangerous in these situations, and with a little work, you can remove it entirely.”
Step 1: Assess the situation.
Where is the glue? If it’s topical on the skin, you can try to remove it yourself. If it’s somewhere more delicate, like in your eyes or mouth, don’t panic. You should, however, contact a medical professional in these cases.
Step 2. Don’t make it worse.
Remove materials close to the glued skin — and steer clear from touching the glue in case more skin gets stuck. In rare cases, super glue can cause red, blistery burns on your skin. Cyanoacrylate — the adhesive chemical in super glue — creates a reaction when it comes in contact with cotton. So keep clothing, tissues, cotton swabs and other like materials away from the affected area.
Step 3. Immerse in soapy water.
Warm water, mixed with simple soap, can help soften your skin and separate it from the adhesive. Let your skin soak for a few minutes, then peel or roll the skin apart. Be gentle, though, so you don’t break the skin and make the situation worse. Using a soft spatula or curved spoon handle can help apply gentle pressure to the bond.
Step 4. Break out the nail polish remover.
If soapy water isn’t doing the trick, gently rub a small amount of acetone, the chemical found in most nail polish removers, onto the bonded area. Read the label carefully, though, as many new nail polish removers no longer contain acetone. Never apply acetone to open wounds.
Step 5. Ask someone who knows.
If water or acetone fail you, it might be time to call your doctor. He or she can assess the seriousness of the situation and make a recommendation. Always seek medical attention if your body is reacting negatively to the glue, or if you feel that you can’t unstick your skin on your own.
If you were successful in your unsticking venture, don’t be concerned if some of the glue won’t come off. The glue will dissolve on its own within a few days. And next time a broken dish or crafting project comes your way, invest in a good pair of nonporous disposable gloves.