How do I care for a wound treated with skin glue?

Doctors and nurses sometimes use skin glue to close wounds. There are some simple steps you can take to help your wound to heal.

Can I get my wound wet?

If your wound has been treated with skin glue, your doctor or nurse will give you advice about caring for your wound and whether you can get it wet.

For example:

  • you should usually keep your wound dry for at least five days
  • after that, it's fine to wash your wound, but don't soak it in water for a long time - this could make the glue come off, or reopen the wound
  • if the wound is on your head, you can wash your hair after five days

If the skin glue on your wound is water-resistant, you may be able to wet your wound lightly by having a wash, or taking a shower. However, you should still avoid soaking your wound in the bath or by swimming.

Your doctor or nurse can tell you about the type of skin glue they use for your wound.

Looking after your wound

Below are some other ways you can help your wound to heal.

  • Pat your wound dry gently with a soft towel - don't rub it.
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing that could rub against your wound.
  • Keep an eye on how your wound is healing - see 'when to get help' below.
  • Don't stick a plaster on top of the skin glue - it could pull the glue off. If your doctor or nurse thinks your wound needs a dressing, they'll tell you what to use and how to use it.
  • Don't put creams or lotions on your wound - these could make the skin glue come off too soon.
  • Don't try to remove the skin glue or scratch and pick at your wound - it will come off by itself after about 7-10 days.
  • Don't scratch, pick or mess with your wound - the scab will come off once your wound has healed.

When to get help

Most wounds closed with skin glue heal normally. You probably won't need to see your doctor or nurse again, unless complications develop, such as if your wound splits open again or starts to bleed.

You should also seek medical advice if you think your wound may be infected. You might have an infection if:

  • the wound becomes more red or swollen
  • the pain or soreness in your wound gets worse
  • a discharge or pus weeps from your wound
  • you have a fever

Contact your GP or practice nurse for advice, or you can go to an NHS walk-in centre.

You can also call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 20/03/2013

Next review due: 19/03/2015