Is it a good idea to use superglue for covering a popped blister?
June 6, 2008 9:58 AM   Subscribe

Is it a good idea to use superglue for covering a popped blister?

I'm a drummer, and from time to time I get a wicked blister at the base of my index finger. A friend told me that Flea used to use superglue as a quick fix for blisters on stage, and this sounds reasonable enough. Of course, I don't know squat about biochem. Is there any reason why I wouldn't want to use this stuff to replace missing skin?
posted by waxboy to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Supposedly, that's what it was made for. But there's a medically approved kind that's different than what you get at your local office supply store.
posted by ferociouskitty at 10:11 AM on June 6, 2008

Well IANAD but that sounds absurdly stupid. Instead of trying to find a way to fix a problem by giving yourself acetone poisoning or something like that, why dont you PREVENT the problem by protecting the affected area so it doesnt get injured? As a die-hard hiker, I use moleskin and duct tape on my feet to prevent frequent blisters - works wonders. A couple of thin strips of tape on your finger would probably work just as well and not be too cumbersome.
posted by elendil71 at 10:14 AM on June 6, 2008

I don't think it was so much a "quick fix" as it was a "holy crap there's a hole in my hand what can I do so we don't have to cancel this sold out show 30 minutes in." Superglue is certainly toxic and also quite hard to remove. There's a product called newskin made to be a bit more convenient than band-aids but I'm not sure it would hold up well with drumming. Emergency rooms and medical places use "Tincture of Benzoine" from what I read which may or may not be expensive/hard to find but much more reliable than OTC products.
posted by genial at 10:16 AM on June 6, 2008

Previously (1), (2)

As an alternative:
Nexcare No Sting Liquid Bandage, Spray
New Skin
Band-Aid Liquid Bandage (bottom most of page)
posted by Upal at 10:18 AM on June 6, 2008

Yeah, I would second moleskin. Even if the original superglue was made of things that don't function as contact poisons it seems entirely possible current ones may. I think my tube of it at least has a death's-head printed on it along with "do not ingest" warning.
posted by XMLicious at 10:19 AM on June 6, 2008

"In 1998 the FDA approved 2-octyl cyanoacrylate for use in closing wounds and surgical incisions. Closure Medical has developed medical cyanoacrylates such as Dermabond, Soothe-N-Seal and Band-Aid Liquid Adhesive Bandage."

Superglue = Cyanoacrylate
posted by PowerCat at 10:24 AM on June 6, 2008

Cyanoacrylate is safe and has been used for medical purposes for a long time. Whether it's effective at isolating a popped blister, I can't say (though I've got a couple myself--maybe I should try it). It might be a little messy applying it on-stage, since your fingers would tend to stick together.
posted by adamrice at 10:27 AM on June 6, 2008

I went superglue-crazy last week and not only covered my blisters, but gooped it all over my other fingers so as to prevent new ones. It ended up cracking and peeling as soon as I started playing (bass, here) again. Huge stupid mess. Pretty uncomfortable. I peeled it all off (over the course of several hours) and wrapped the blistered fingertips in masking tape. Tape worked just great.
posted by Plug Dub In at 10:29 AM on June 6, 2008

Seconding upal and XMlicicous - from Wikipedia entry : "Cyanoacrylates give off vapor which is irritating to eyes, mucous membranes and respiratory system. ACGIH assign a Threshold Limit Value exposure limit of 0.2 parts per million. On rare occasions inhalation may trigger asthma. There are a wide variety of adhesives of which different cyanoacrylate formulations may be a component. It is wisest to obtain and consult a manufacturers material safety data sheet for a product in order to consider the specific hazards associated with exposure.

According to the bottle label, Superglue may cause allergic skin reaction. Superglue is an eye and respiratory irritant."
posted by shr1n1 at 10:30 AM on June 6, 2008

As a data point, I went to the ER with a badly ripped-up knee and was put back together with super glue and reinforced paper strips. Because of where the wound was, I kept ripping the stitches out by walking. I used the glue for about 2 weeks on already damaged skin with no skin irritation or other problems.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 10:33 AM on June 6, 2008

I don't have any links and haven't tried it myself, but I can only say that my friends who play guitar to the point that their fingertips get raw have used it to protect themselves. In fact, one friend has said that if it weren't for superglue there would have been times he wouldn't have been able to play. Keep in mind these are not open wounds.
posted by mcarthey at 10:37 AM on June 6, 2008

Yeah, no need to be paranoid about superglue. Is it a good idea to use it on a blister? I have no idea. Maybe not. Have I done similar things with no obvious ill effects? You betcha.
posted by Justinian at 10:38 AM on June 6, 2008

The super glue you buy for sticking stuff back together is slightly different to the ones intended for wound healing. Both are cyanoacrylates, but the non-medical stuff is more likely to irritate your skin than the stuff used by doctors and may release potentially harmful compounds as it cures. Take a look at this straight dope answer for full details.

I think it would be very unlikely for this to cause anything terrible, especially if this was a one-off and not a regular thing. But it would probably be better to pick up one of those liquid bandage products instead, though, as they're also stronger and more flexible than regular super glue.
posted by xchmp at 11:00 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've used superglue to close stubborn long/thin (not oo deep) cuts, for blisters I'd use moleskin or newskin (liquid bandage).

There's no real cure for blisters better than the body building up a callous, just takes time...inhibiting that process is usually a bad thing.
posted by iamabot at 11:05 AM on June 6, 2008

genial at 1:16 PM on June 6 claims that "Superglue is certainly toxic ..."


The National Toxicology Program and the United Kingdom Health and Safety Executive "have concluded that the use of ethyl cyanoacrylate is safe and that additional study is unnecessary.[3]"
posted by IAmBroom at 11:09 AM on June 6, 2008

This won't help our drumming friend, but for foot blisters I recommend BAND-AID® Brand ACTIV-FLEX™ Bandages (see fourth section). These bandages (using 'hydrocolloid technology') seal on over a blister so securely they feel like a second layer of skin. I have worn one on my foot for 3-4 days, and completely forgotten I was wearing it. Even through 3 or 4 showers, they stay on firmly and watertight, giving the blister a chance to shrink.
posted by Lord Kinbote at 11:17 AM on June 6, 2008

Keep in mind that flea is a bassist, and having bandages on the tips of his fingers would probably affect his playing more than having tape on your fingers will affect yours. So if you can find a solution that works better medically, that doesn't get in the way of playing, even if it's slightly more obtrusive than superglue, you might want to still use it.

Yes I used to play the drums. It's been a while though.

Also, consider that if the superglue starts to peel off, it might be a bit more of a hassle to repair during the show than a bandage+an adhesive strip (tape of some sort).
posted by gauchodaspampas at 11:20 AM on June 6, 2008

In 1998 the FDA approved 2-octyl cyanoacrylate ...

Superglue = Cyanoacrylate

As a general note, one should be careful about conflating or assuming similarities due to similar chemical names when safety is an issue. Superglues are cyanoacrylates, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're 2-octyl cyanoacrylate. In this case the important differences seem to be minor, but in other cases one could be dandy while the other would kill you dead.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:04 PM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]

I have problems with the skin on my fingertips cracking and splitting open and was told to use super glue by a dermatologist at UPenn who said it's non-toxic and the best thing out there for it.
posted by The Straightener at 12:06 PM on June 6, 2008

Guitar players I know superglue their fingernails, not their fingertips. FWIW.
posted by rokusan at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2008

I have known a drummer who used superglue on his hands. Don't know if he still uses it, but he's definitely still alive. So, umm. It probably won't kill you.
posted by brina at 12:20 PM on June 6, 2008

I've known professional classical string players who used New Skin on injured fingertips. FWIW.
posted by aliasless at 12:52 PM on June 6, 2008

I had a pretty bad busted lip superglued together by a friend who worked in a bio lab. No harm done. One tip - tell them to be careful with the latex gloves if you don't want to be walking outside with pieces of latex glove hanging off your hand.
posted by true at 1:23 PM on June 6, 2008

It won't hurt you (had a friend that used it to seal cuts all the time). The flaky/peely/grubby glue patch on your hand may bug you. I use the liquid bandaid a fair bit now, it has that peely patch problem as well but it does give relief (it's a bit of a pain to apply because it takes a few minutes to cure fully and usually requires a couple coats). Nexcare bandages are awesome I got this indescribable second degree sunburn on one foot (damn you, Hawaiian beach umbrella hole!), silver dollar sized blister that just peeled right off leaving raw wound, and they were a godsend - I was amazed at how well they stuck.
posted by nanojath at 2:02 PM on June 6, 2008

I use superglue when I'm doing crazy physical training for my job. Often superglue is the only thing that keeps my hands/feet together, and it is the only thing that stays on for more than a few minutes.

When I'm not doing intense training and if I have a couple of r&r days, I use second skin and plenty of air, which is definitely the better remedy - Superglue is a last-ditch treatment when bandages of any sort will come off, even when duct taped/ace bandaged in place.

Superglue has worked quite well for me in the past, especially cutting down on progressive injuries in which I do something repetitive (pullups) then have to come back and do more with a blister, blister rips. Superglue keeps it from getting more ragged and the injury from spreading.
posted by arnicae at 2:29 PM on June 6, 2008

Band-Aid Single Step Liquid Bandage is the medical grade superglue. Comes with 10 individually wrapped Q-tip style sterile applicators.
posted by JackFlash at 2:48 PM on June 6, 2008

Possibly unrelated, but when I was doing ballet and dancing in pointe shoes, i used to rub my (usually blistered) toes in methylated spirits to build up the calluses and so reduce the blistering. Hurt like buggery at first, but got easier over time...
posted by prettypretty at 6:57 PM on June 6, 2008

Dermabond is 3M's FDA-approved surgical cyanoacrylate adhesive, and it's insanely expensive; Vetbond is an almost-identical product marketed to veterinarians that costs much less and comes in multiple-use containers.
posted by nicwolff at 9:45 PM on June 6, 2008

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