Removing surgical glue from hair
March 26, 2021 8:23 PM   Subscribe

How do I remove surgical glue that is stuck in hair?

My wife got hit in the head last Saturday and incurred a wound on her scalp. She went to urgent care and they used some kind of surgical glue to close up the wound. She was told she couldn't wash her hair for five days. She went to the doctor for a follow up yesterday and they refused to help her try to remove the glue. She finally washed it tonight and the glue isn't coming out of her hair.

She has very long hair and is distressed at the possibility that she might have to cut the glue out and also the idea that if she cannot remove it, it may damage her scalp or hair follicles.

The internet has a variety of dubious suggestions (acetone???) and the doctor suggested that she might need someone else to "help her," whatever that means, but I am disabled and currently unable to provide much in the way of help. What can she do to get this out? Thanks!
posted by sineala to Health & Fitness (8 answers total)
My understanding is that surgical glue is basically fancy krazy glue. Acetone is the go-to for getting fingers unstuck, etc after being in contact with Krazy glue. However given that it’s by the scalp I would be nervous about her doing it herself. I don’t think acetone does great things to skin or hair in large quantities and you’d want to limit how far it “spread” across the scalp (while also trying to avoid the injury as it would also dissolve the surgical glue and you def don’t want acetone in a wound.

I am NOT a doctor at all, just someone who has their fingers stuck together too many times
posted by raccoon409 at 8:29 PM on March 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

In my experience - surgical glue is a type of Cyanoacrylate or “super glue” (or nail glue, etc.) so yes, some thinners like acetone can break those down. However it’s not the best for skin, hair, or breathing or to be near eyes.

Don’t fret. The surgical glues tend to soften and come out with time. They either crumble and flake or become gummy - especially when exposed to moisture - and can eventually come out in little rolls.

The best thing is just time. Maybe 1-2 weeks.

(Source - 4 surgeries. 2 with large incisions next to pubic hair.)
posted by Crystalinne at 8:30 PM on March 26, 2021 [8 favorites]

Here’s some information on skin adhesive removal. Good luck! You may have better luck searching by using the trade name dermabond.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:31 PM on March 26, 2021

Best answer: Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner and Restorer
This product is made for painters who have allowed their brushes to completely dry with acrylic paint. It will loosen and remove dried acrylic if applied for a bit and allowed to sit. It will dissolve anything plastic, so use a glass container and don't pour it down your drain as it will eat the plastic seals. I used it and it does not irritate the skin; its origin is in the medical field, and is used to remove medical adhesives applied to the skin like contact electrodes.

I would personally try some really oily conditioner like Argan or Coconut oil, Olive oil, Neutrogena Body oil and have her apply it to her hair and sleep overnight with a shower cap on it and then use a clarifying shampoo. I bet the oil will seep into her hair shafts and undermine the glue's grip on her hair shaft. Hopefully, it will leave her hair looking great.
posted by effluvia at 8:50 PM on March 26, 2021 [1 favorite]

Yes, acetone will remove superglue. And fingernail polish removers are typically acetone, so you may already have something at home to remove it.
posted by ShooBoo at 9:20 PM on March 26, 2021

It's been only 6 days since the skin laceration? The wound is still healing. Any solvent that frees the hair will also reopen the wound. This will disrupt healing and cause scarring and hair loss. You don't want to have to go back for medical attention or become the new Gorilla Glue girl. Give it more time and let it grow out more. It will not harm the follicles. When the skin is healed and the glob of glue is a safe distance from the scalp, you can work on it.
posted by dum spiro spero at 9:56 PM on March 26, 2021 [34 favorites]

acetone based nail polish remover.
posted by chiquitita at 12:21 AM on March 27, 2021

For what it is worth, tossing my vote in with those who say let it crumble and come out on its own. It may feel or look foreign in the meantime, but it's too early.
posted by metabaroque at 12:51 PM on March 27, 2021 [3 favorites]

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