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The Center for Disaster Medicine and Traumatology

Katastrofmedicinskt centrum (KMC) i Linköping - The Center for Disaster Medicine and Traumatology in Linköping, Sweden
Research

Honey for treatment of infected traumatic wounds

In conflict settings, infected wound rates of 30-60% have been reported, contributing to a significant portion of the surgical workload. Studies from recent and ongoing armed conflicts have demonstrated that an alarming rate of the patients treated for infected wounds were found to be infected bacteria that are prone to develop antimicrobial resistance. Standard treatment protocols for infected wounds in conflicts consists of repeated debridements, change of dressings and administration of antibiotics until no sign of infection is seen. Final wound closure is subsequently achieved with delayed primary closure, flaps, split skin grafts or a combination thereof.  

Many surgeons and humanitarian organizations working in conflict settings recommend the application of honey in the wound as a treatment adjunct. The rationale being that honey has bactericidal and hyperosmotic properties. There are however few scientific reports to support this claim. A Cochrane review from 2015 stated that there is insufficient data to draw any conclusions regarding the efficacy of honey in treatment of wounds. Honey has the advantage of being readily available at a low cost in many low- and middle-income countries. If honey is proven efficient in treatment of infected wounds it could improve the use of surgical resources in conflicts and perhaps more importantly facilitate the reduction of antimicrobial resistance worldwide. 

A current project at KMC aims to assess the efficacy of topical honey in mitigating wound infection as compared to the use of systematic antibiotics. 

Contact: Måns Muhrbeck 

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