Sticking Together: Topical Adhesives in Pediatric Wound Management

Sutures have long been the standard of care for pediatric wound closure, but it’s no secret that children and needles don’t always mix well. Injuries account for about 13.8% of children’s primary care visits alone, and most of those injuries involve open wounds that need to be properly closed.  

Luckily for patients and providers, alternative wound closure methods like topical adhesives and medical tape have changed the pediatric wound care landscape in recent decades. These child-friendly wound care options offer a better patient experience that minimizes discomfort while still delivering positive outcomes. 

Understanding Pediatric Wounds  

Though pediatric wounds tend to heal faster than similar adult wounds, children’s skin presents a unique set of challenges because it’s still developing. Pediatric skin is more delicate and sensitive than adult skin, making effective wound closure especially important to the healing process.  

Children are prone to cuts, scrapes, and burns that can easily become infected if the wound isn’t closed properly. Traditional pediatric wound treatment typically includes:  

  • A local anesthetic to numb the affected area 
  • Sutures to close the wound 
  • A follow-up visit to remove sutures  

The Role of Topical Skin Adhesives  

Topical adhesives, otherwise known as skin glue, offer a child-friendly wound care method that can make all the difference in terms of patient experience. When applied correctly, the adhesive holds the tissue edges of a wound together so it can heal while providing a microbial barrier that protects against infection. 

A topical adhesive is a liquid cyanoacrylate monomer that polymerizes into long chains in the presence of moisture. Skin glue is generally used to close superficial lacerations that are about 1 to 4 cm in length and no more than 4 to 8 mm deep.  

Skin glue offers a less painful method of pediatric wound closure that can make visits more efficient and less stressful for everyone. Application is easy and doesn’t require anesthetics, which lowers the level of emotional distress for the patient. Topical adhesives dry quickly, making the wound closure process more efficient but just as effective when compared to traditional methods. 

Benefits of Using Topical Adhesives in Pediatric Wound Management 

When considering topical adhesives vs. sutures, there‘s no question that topical adhesives win in terms of patient experience. Skin glues also provide excellent pediatric wound infection prevention by creating a microbial barrier that offers flexible yet secure closure. 

Topical adhesives offer a range of other benefits in pediatric settings, including:  

  • Precise applicators that allow for better control  
  • A quick dry time that improves efficiency 
  • A less painful closure process that minimizes wound inflammation 
  • Flexible yet secure closure that’s ideal for active kids 
  • Water-resistant, shower-safe formulas 
  • Faster healing times with minimal scarring 
  • No additional risk of infection compared to adhesive tape or sutures 
  • No need for a follow-up visit to remove sutures 

On top of these benefits, multiple randomized controlled trials have shown no significant difference in cosmetic outcomes after the wound heals, according to both parents and plastic surgeons.   

Overall, topical adhesives offer a much smoother pediatric wound closure process that benefits patients, parents, and providers. This child-friendly method gives providers a valuable tool to improve outcomes while keeping kids as comfortable as possible throughout the pediatric wound healing process, ultimately leading to happier and healthier kids. 

SourceMark Medical is proud to include a range of innovative topical skin adhesives that enable positive outcomes for kids and adults alike. For more information about SourceMark Topical Skin Adhesives or our other innovative solutions, contact a member of our team.