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A quick home improvement project or fun craft afternoon with the kids can become a major hassle if someone gets super glue on their skin.
Super glue can even bind the skin to other objects or glue the fingers together. However, super glue is not usually harmful to the skin, and there is a range of quick home remedies to choose from that can usually remove it.
The following techniques can safely get super glue off of the skin:
1. Soaking in warm, soapy water
If the super glue is not fully dry, soaking the affected area in warm, soapy water may help.
Fill a bowl or bucket with very warm — but not hot — water and soap or detergent.
Soak the affected area for 5 to 10 minutes. Once the glue is soft, gently rub or peel it off of the skin. Do not continue if it is painful or seems like it may tear the skin.
If this fails, try one of the following methods.
2. Peeling apart stuck skin
If the skin gets stuck to another object or a finger gets stuck to another finger, soak the area in warm soapy water first.
Then using a blunt object, such as the handle of a spoon, gently try to separate the object from the skin.
Try a rolling motion or peeling motion, rather than trying to pull apart the skin if it is painful. Be very careful not to break the skin’s surface.
3. Nail polish remover or acetone
Most nail polish removers contain a powerful solvent called acetone that can dissolve super glue. Before attempting to remove the object, ensure it is safe to use removal chemicals on it.
For example, it is unsafe to use acetone on anything that has peroxide on it. If possible, rinse the object before using acetone. Acetone may alter the color of some objects, especially if they are plastic.
Pour the nail polish remover in a bowl and soak the skin for a minute. Continue soaking for 1 minute at a time until the bond of the glue dissolves.
Acetone is potentially toxic and can dry out and irritate the skin, so it is vital to wash the hands thoroughly afterward. People with eczema or dry skin conditions may notice irritation and dryness after using acetone, so use a gentle moisturizer until the skin improves.
Do not use acetone on broken or injured skin, as it can burn. Never use acetone inside the body, such as in the nose or mouth.
Nail polish remover, which contains acetone, is available in many grocery stores, pharmacies, and online.
4. Butter and oils
Butter and oils, such as coconut or avocado oil, can help separate fingers that are stuck together with super glue.
Try soaking the skin in warm water first, then rub oil or butter onto the super glue to dissolve the bond. Apply more oil and massage the area until the glue is gone.
5. Pumice stone
A pumice stone can remove calluses and dead skin, and may help remove bits of dried glue. Avoid using a pumice stone on sensitive skin or the face.
To gently rub off the super glue with a pumice stone, soak the area in warm soapy water first, then dip the stone in warm water. Rub the pumice on the area in a circular motion until the super glue is gone. If doing so causes pain or discomfort, try another method.
Pumice stones are available in many natural health stores, pharmacies, and online.
6. Lemon juice
The acid in lemon juice can help remove super glue. This remedy works best on small patches of super glue and to separate glued-together skin.
Pour lemon juice into a bowl and soak the skin for 5 to 10 minutes. Then use a soft toothbrush or cotton swab to rub the lemon juice directly onto the area. Rub the skin with a dry washcloth to loosen the glue, then wash the hands and moisturize.
7. Glue removers
Some craft and hobby stores sell products that can quickly remove super glue without damaging skin. For skin glued to plastic, try a glue remover instead of acetone, since acetone can damage some plastics.
Unless the skin is visibly injured or painful, it is safe to delay removing super glue for an hour or two to allow a person time to purchase glue remover from a local store.
Although peeling the super glue off the skin can be tempting, remember that super glue binds tightly.
Do not pick at the glue or try to force it off of the skin. It is safe to rub the skin or the glue gently, but if any method hurts, try something different.
Some people accidentally injure their skin trying to remove super glue. If the super glue has caused a burn or wound, keep the area clean and put an antibiotic ointment on it.
These minor injuries almost always heal on their own, but if the wound is very painful, turns red, or swells, see a doctor.
Super glue is potentially dangerous if it gets in the eyes or on the eyelids. It may also glue the mouth shut if it gets too close to the lips or inside the mouth.
When super glue sticks to the skin, make sure it does not get near the eyes or mouth.
If someone has swallowed super glue, have them rinse out their mouth, and contact a poison control center or go to the emergency room.
Certain types of super glue are moderately flammable, so keep the skin away from stoves, ovens, hair dryers, and hot surfaces. Never use a lighter or match to try to burn super glue off of the skin.
Trying to pull super glue off of the skin can cause the skin to peel or break open. If the skin breaks, do not use chemicals to remove super glue. Instead, see a doctor.
Super glue can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Anyone who experiences any symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a sudden rash or difficulty breathing, should go to the emergency room.
Super glue on the skin can be annoying and even scary, especially for children, but it is not usually dangerous. People who have serious skin conditions should see a doctor, but most people can safely remove super glue at home.
If home remedies do not work and the affected area does not seem injured, it is usually safe to wait a few days to see if the glue comes off on its own.
However, because infants and young children may put their hands or other affected areas in their mouth, it is safest to take them to a doctor for removal if home remedies do not work.