Fake nails, cheap pants – full thickness cyanoacrylate burns

Dr. Lachlan Farmer1, Ms. Linda Quinn1, Dr. Amy Jeeves1, Dr. Michelle Lodge1, Mr. Darren Molony1, Dr. Rebecca Cooksey1, Mr. Bernard Carney1

1 Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Department of Burns Surgery, King William Road, North Adelaide, South Australia 5006. Corresponding author: lachlan.farmer@gmail.com

Nail glues are commercially available adhesive products designed for fixing cosmetic nails onto a natural nail. These products can be found in many homes around Australia in their role as nail glues or as a generic bonding agent e.g “Super Glue” or “Krazy Glue” (both containing ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate). The active compounds found in these adhesives are a mixture of alcohol and cyanoacrylates. Whilst these compounds have been modified in recent years to form safe-to-use tissue adhesives in the form of 2-octyl-cyanoacrylate (Dermabond), their predecessor found in nail glues are less so. We report on a case of nail glue reacting with cotton containing track-pants to produce an exothermic reaction resulting in a full thickness burn in a child. The underlying chemistry and safety implications are discussed.

Key Words

Nail Glue, Children’s Burns, Cyanoacrylate


Lachlan Farmer is a Paediatric Burns Registrar from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide


ANZBA is a not for profit organisation and the peak body for health professionals responsible for the care of the burn injured in Australia and New Zealand. ANZBA encourages higher standards of care through education, performance monitoring and research.

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