Wound Healing

Honey applications have been used to treat various types of wounds, such as leg ulcers and bed sores. Honey has also been used to enhance postoperative wound healing and partial-thickness wounds such as split-thickness skin graft donor sites.

One study involving 59 patients with wounds or ulcers not responding to conventional treatment were treated with topical unprocessed honey. Of these, 58 cases were reported as showing remarkable recovery, with all sterile wounds remaining sterile until healed and infected wounds becoming sterile within 1 week. The one case that did not respond involved a malignant ulcer. Clinically, honey promoted rapid debridement of wounds, epithelialisation and reduced oedema surrounding the ulcers (Efem 1988). Vardi et al (1998) found that 5-10 mL of unprocessed honey applied twice daily to infants not responding to at least 2 weeks of conventional treatment was able to produce a marked clinical improvement within 5 days and complete wound closure after 21 days.

A non-randomised, prospective open study compared the effects of honey-impregnated gauze, paraffin gauze, hydrocolloid dressings and saline-soaked gauzes in 88 patients who underwent skin grafting (Misirlioglu et al 2003). Honey gauzes produced a faster epithelialisation and reduced the sensation of pain compared with paraffin and saline-soaked gauzes. This effect was the same as that observed for hydrocolloid dressings.

A honey-medicated dressing was tested for ease of use and efficacy in a study involving 60 patients with chronic, complicated surgical or acute traumatic wounds (Ahmed et al 2003). In 59 patients, the preparation was considered easy to use and helpful in cleaning wounds.

A RCT of 101 haemodialysis patients compared thrice-weekly application of Medihoney with mupirocin for the healing of catheter exit sites. This study found the honey to be safe, effective and more affordable than mupirocin for this group (Johnson etal 2005).

FOURNIER'S GANGRENE

In 1996, the effects of topical unprocessed honey, together with traditional treatment in a rare condition known as Fournier's gangrene (FG) were investigated (Hejase et al 1996). FG is an extensive fulminant infection of the genitals, perineum or the abdominal wall and is generally regarded as a difficult-to-manage infectious disease. The major gross pathological findings are oedema and necrosis of the subcutaneous tissues when the male genitalia are involved, necessitating aggressive treatment.

In this study, 38 patients admitted with the diagnosis of FG were treated with broad-spectrum triple antimicrobial therapy, broad debridement, exhaustive cleaning © 2007 Elsevier Australia

and application of unprocessed honey dressings daily for 2 weeks. Rapid changes to wound healing rate occurred after 10 days' honey use — advancing necrosis ceased, wounds became sterile, odour was reduced and fluid was absorbed from wounds. Honey also enhanced the growth and multiplication of epithelial cells from the wound edges and reduced the need for scrotal plastic surgery. As a result of the impressive results obtained, these researchers highly recommend honey dressings in gangrenous wounds, suggesting that it significantly improved patient outcomes.

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