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Cyanoacrylates

Definition

Cyanoacrylate is a sticky substance found in many glues. Cyanoacrylate poisoning occurs when someone swallows this substance or gets it on their skin.

This article is for information only. Do NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Alternative Names

Glue; Super Glue; Crazy Glue

Poisonous Ingredient

Cyanoacrylates are the harmful substances in these products.

Symptoms

The skin sticks together when these products get on the skin.

Home Care

Wash exposed areas with warm water right away. If the glue gets on the eyelids, try to keep the eyelids separated. If the eye becomes glued shut, get emergency medical care right away. If the eye is partially open, flush with cool water for 15 minutes.

Do not try to peel off the glue. It will come off naturally when sweat builds up under it and lifts it off.

If fingers or other skin surfaces are stuck together, use a gentle back and forth motion to try to separate them. Applying vegetable oil around the area may help separate the skin that is stuck together.

Before Calling Emergency

Have this information ready:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product
  • Time it was swallowed or touched the skin
  • Part of the body affected

Poison Control

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Take the container to the hospital with you, if possible.

The health care provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated.

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well someone does depends on how much cyanoacrylate they swallowed and how quickly they receive treatment. The faster medical help is given, the better the chance for recovery.

It should be possible to separate the skin that is stuck together, as long as the substance was not swallowed. Most eyelids separate on their own in 1 to 4 days.

If this substance is stuck to the eyeball itself (not the eyelids), you can damage the surface of the eye if it is not removed by an experienced eye doctor. Sores on the cornea and permanent vision problems have been reported.

References

Anderson AC. Ocular toxicology. In: Shannon MW, Borron SW, Burns MJ, eds. Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2007:chap 15.

Beach R. Tissue glues. In: Pfenninger JL, Fowler GC, eds. Pfenninger and Fowler's Procedures for Primary Care. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2011:chap 37.

Sharma R, Brunette DD. Ophthalmology. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, et al, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 71.

Review Date: 
11/4/2015
Reviewed By: 
Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.