Traditional bandages for wound care usually consist of a small piece of sterile gauze held in place by a thin adhesive strip. There are times, however, when a standard bandage is not as effective for wound protection. The injury may be too large for a bandage to cover, or it may be difficult to seal off. In cases such as these, many people choose to use a special tapeless and gauzeless wound sealant known as a liquid bandage.
A liquid bandage is essentially a self-curing adhesive which uses the same basic principles as so-called super glues. A special form of acrylate glue is mixed with chemical stabilizers and curatives to form a liquid adhesive which bonds well with human skin. As the bandage dries, it forms a protective polymer shell over the injured skin.
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Cuts and scrapes which cause long thin breaks in the victim's skin are especially suited for liquid bandages. The solution can be carefully swabbed over the entire length of the injury, forming a protective coating which would be difficult to duplicate with regular cloth or plastic bandages. Injuries in areas which flex or stretch, such as joints or fingers, also benefit from the flexibility of these types of bandages.
Surgeons and other medical professionals also use a more advanced form of liquid bandage as a substitute for traditional sutures. If an internal wound can be sealed with a biodegradable polymer instead of thread, the chances of a post-surgical infection are often reduced. Minor gashes and punctures which would ordinarily require a few stitches or butterfly bandage to close can often be effectively sealed with a form of liquid dressing instead.
Many health experts actually prefer the use of liquid bandages over traditional gauze bandages in certain situations. The bandage solution actually flows into the injured area and bonds with the edges of the laceration, something a standard gauze bandage cannot do. Traditional gauze bandages may also fall off during physical activities or lose their adhesive qualities over time, leaving the wound exposed to bacteria and other contaminants. A liquid one flexes with the patient and should be water-resistant if not fully waterproof.
Many drugstores and pharmacies offer over-the-counter liquid bandage solutions alongside traditional gauze bandages, gauze pads and medical tape. It is important to read and understand all of the instructions provided with the solution before applying it to an open wound. Some of the chemicals may sting or burn immediately after application, but the bandage should cure within a few minutes. Some cuts and scrapes may require additional bandaging in order to prevent infection, and a liquid bandage should never be picked or scraped off an unhealed wound.