We’ve all heard about how SuperGlue can be used for sealing small tears or splits on the skin and we all know about how it can glue your fingers together if you’re not careful when using it. But, is it really something that you should add to your IFAK?


SuperGlue is an all-purpose adhesive and there are rumors floating around that it has been used in combat for sealing wounds. While true, a skin glue was used in combat theaters it was not known as SuperGlue back then. The glue used as a medical skin adhesive is made up of one of the three following ingredients, Cyano Acrylate, N-Butyl Cyano Acrylate or 2- Octyl Cyano Acrylate. These ingredients are what made the surgical/medical adhesive a non-irritant. Using standard off the shelf SuperGlue that contains Cyano Acrylate and is something to consider. Make sure that it is actually SuperGlue and not some knock-off brand. It has to have Cyano Acrylate as a major ingredient. If it does not contain any of the three listed ingredients it may cause a level of irritation to the surrounding skin and a burning sensation if any of it gets into the wound track. Not to mention that it’s probably something that you don’t want to introduce into a wound.


Medical adhesives are based on the original skin glue that was used during the Vietnam conflict before SuperGlue became a trade name and was marketed to the general public. Skin friendly adhesive has since evolved into several forms. If anyone is interested in getting medical grade skin adhesive for their IFAK or for their home First Aid kit, be aware that you might need a prescription for the human use type. There are several names that it goes under so Google will be your best friend. The cost of getting this item can be a bit prohibitive so other options might be worth looking at.


Have no fear, there is a veterinarian use skin glue that is exactly the same as the human use but labeled under a different name. Veterinarian use items are usually less expensive and in most cases, do not need a prescription. Usually, you can just drop in at a farm or veterinary supply store and pick up a bottle or two with no questions asked. When all else fails, hit the Dollar Store and pick 3 tubes of SuperGlue for a Dollar, just make sure it has one of the 3 listed ingredients in it.


A few things to remember when using any kind of skin adhesive is that a little bit will work better than a large amount. Be aware that some adhesives work better on areas that don’t bend. What that means is they will retain a seal on a finger as long as it’s not on the joint. It’s up to you to do the research on what works. Most of the time it will be trial and error. Skin adhesives are not for large cuts or wounds. They are only to be used for very minor cuts that are in a location where a conventional bandage won’t work. You may have to add butterfly closures along with the glue.


About J.R. Jackson

James ‘Remo’ Jackson is a former US Navy Chief Petty Officer who received the nickname ‘Remo’ from a service buddy not from the popular Destroyer series of action novels. With a few non-fiction works to his credit, short manuals and procedural text books, he is currently a roving reviewer for in the service he developed an interest in the zombie/horror genre and was disappointed at the lack of novels and films that contained realistic and accurate military action. This inspired him to create his own zombie apocalyptic novel that is currently an ‘epic’ work in progress that has a military thematic element to it.A certified wilderness/outdoor survival instructor and disaster mitigation educator, he can normally be found outdoors teaching clueless people the fine art of survival in less than pristine conditions.