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Cut Fixed With Skin Glue: How to Care for Your Child

Some small lacerations (cuts) heal on their own, but others may need to be fixed. Sometimes health care providers do this with skin glue instead of stitches. A healing cut can get infected, so follow these instructions to help prevent an infection and protect the cut while it heals.

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  • Your child may shower without covering the cut, but shouldn't take baths or swim for a week.

  • Don't soak or scrub the cut for a week. Dry wet skin by patting it gently.

  • If your child has pain:

    • You may give acetaminophen (such as Tylenol® or a store brand).

    • Talk to your health care provider before giving ibuprofen (such as Advil®, Motrin®, or a store brand).

  • Don't put antibiotic ointment on the cut. Ointment can dissolve the skin glue.

  • Don't use a bandage unless the health care provider tells you to.

  • To prevent infection, your child shouldn't pick at the glue or at the scab that forms over the cut.

  • After the glue has fallen off, when your child is in the sun, you should apply sunscreen to the scar as you would for any skin. This will help protect the scar from burning and prevent it from getting darker.

  • Make sure your child's tetanus vaccine is up to date.

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  • Your child has redness, warmth, or swelling around the wound. This could be the start of an infection.

  • Red streaks are coming from the wound.

  • Pus is draining from the wound.

  • The edges of the wound start to separate.

  • Your child develops pain or a fever.

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The wound:

  • starts bleeding and the bleeding does not stop after applying light pressure

  • opens up

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How do health care providers treat cuts? Health care providers use stitches for wide or large cuts. For small, shallow cuts, they sometimes use skin glue instead of stitches when they feel it is the best choice. Most cuts will leave a small scar.

What happens when a cut fixed with skin glue heals? Skin glue holds the edges of a cut together while it heals and helps protect the wound from infection. Slight redness or itchiness around the wound is normal. After 7–10 days, the wound should be healed and the glue will fall off on its own.

Why does a cut get a scar? When the deeper layer of the skin is injured, the body uses a protein (collagen) to help fill in the cut area. The filled-in area becomes a scar. A scar can form even if a cut is fixed with skin glue. Over time, some scars fade or get smaller.

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