Honey for Healing Skin Wounds

Two experiments, one in Israel and one in Egypt, examined the use of honey as a dressing for wound healing.

The first experiment used a commercially available medical-grade honey gel in the ventral midline incision of 89 colic cases before closing the skin. The second study used a composite mixture of clover flower bee honey, rosemary oil, chamomile oil and Vaseline to heal experimental (15 donkeys), as well as naturally occurring skin wounds (122 cases) in donkeys and horses. Older clinical wounds were surgically debrided and excess granulation tissue was removed surgically or using copper sulfate type powder. None of the wounds were reportedly bandaged.

There were no complications seen with the use of honey in either study. In the sutured ventral midline incisions of the colic cases, only 8% of the horses treated with medical-grade honey had incision infections during follow-up compared with 32% of the untreated animals. In the open wound healing study, all the wounds treated with the composite mixture contracted more quickly and completed healing first compared with other more commonly used treatments.

In addition, these wounds showed complete regeneration and closure of the dermis and epidermis with a higher degree of organization, including normal sweat and sebaceous glands as well as hair follicles. Both of these treatments that include honey as a key ingredient offer a low-cost, effective option for healing skin wounds in horses and donkeys.

— Gustafsson K et al. EVJ 2021;in press and Anis A et al. JEVS 2021;in press


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Albert Kane

Albert J. Kane, DVM, MPVM, Ph.D.

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