A guide to using Mānuka Honey for Wound Healing!
Because of its natural antibacterial properties, Mānuka honey from the native New Zealand Leptospermum Scoparium bush, or Tea Tree, is a great natural alternative to help aid the healing process of wounds. You don’t need to buy any fancy gels; you can use Unique Mānuka Factor (UMF) Mānuka honey straight from the jar as an evidence-based alternative medicine. With its antibacterial activity, antimicrobial properties, and anti-inflammatory properties, it’s perfect for the job!
Already know about the health benefits of using active Mānuka honey on wounds? Just want to learn how to apply Mānuka honey to wounds and cuts? Skip ahead to our step-by-step guide.We always recommend talking to your doctor/ health care professional before following our recommendations.
Can you put honey on a wound?
Yes, you can use honey as a wound dressing. The use of Mānuka honey in wound healing for acute and chronic wounds has been around for centuries. Ever since 2007, a range of honey-based wound, cut, burns and ulcer products have been approved by the FDA for minor wounds to surgical wounds.
Research shows that regular honey has been effective in providing a protective barrier to fight wound infections due to its hydrogen peroxide component. However, regular honey differs from Mānuka honey when it comes to health benefits. Mānuka honey, especially UMF 20+ Mānuka honey, is a step above the rest in terms of healing properties due to its unique pH balance and the presence of methylglyoxal (MGO).
Some studies suggest that Mānuka honey can fight bacterial infections by targeting bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics after repeated exposure, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus and pseudomonas aeruginosa, while ensuring helpful enzymes and amino acids that are present in healthy skin biomes remain unharmed. Mānuka honey has also been claimed to prevent the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the first place. A 2012 study claimed that Mānuka honey “inhibits the development of Streptococcus pyogenes biofilms and causes reduced expression of two fibronectin binding proteins”.
According to Professor Dar, "If a wound is heavily contaminated or at risk of infection, using a high UMF Mānuka honey is warranted, but if the wound is not heavily contaminated, then using a lower and less expensive Mānuka honey may be beneficial. Store-bought generic honey probably has no beneficial effect over no treatment”. The study found that UMF 20+ was by far more effective than generic honey or lower UMF Mānuka honey like UMF 5+.
So when it comes to using honey on a wound environment, choose Mānuka and choose at least UMF 15+ or higher, UMF 20+ Mānuka honey being the optimal honey you could use.
Is it okay to put Mānuka honey on open wounds/broken skin?
Yes, it is okay to put Mānuka honey as a topical treatment straight on open wound tissues and broken skin. However, there are a few complaints of Mānuka creating a stinging feeling (mostly on infected wounds). This is most likely due to the acidity in the honey. When wounds are inflamed, they are most sensitive to acidity, hence the stinging sensation.
To combat this, using a gel is often suggested to help slowly release the honey into the wound. There are lots of premade Mānuka gel-based products on the market, and while this is great for practicality, we highly recommend you do your research to make sure you are getting the full benefits of Mānuka honey.
Remember, when it comes to putting raw honey on a wound site, you want a high UMF Mānuka honey like UMF 20+. Lots of these Mānuka healing gels may not be UMF rated.
Overall, when it comes to the side effects of using Mānuka honey for healing cuts, there are no significant side effects recorded. Of course, if you have a record of reacting/being allergic to honey or pollen, we suggest staying away from Mānuka honey for wound care or consulting your doctor before use.
Mānuka honey doesn’t just have to be applied to open wounds; it has great benefits at any stage of wound healing.
How long should you use Mānuka honey on a wound for?
It is often suggested by healthcare professionals that you should keep your wound moist for at least five days. Keeping your wound covered up and moist using Mānuka honey helps the blood vessels regenerate faster and reduces the cells that cause inflammation faster compared with a wound that is left open (aired out).
Of course, the severity of your wounds really does have an effect on how long you should be covering and using Mānuka honey on them, so if you are feeling lost, please do talk to your health provider.
Who should not use Mānuka honey on wounds?
Now you may have heard that consuming Mānuka honey, or any honey, is not suggested for diabetics and for children under the age of one. But this doesn’t apply to Mānuka honey and wound care.
Mānuka honey and honey products are suggested by health professionals to be treated with the same caution as sugar by diabetics. However, when it comes to diabetic ulcers, Mānuka honey is often suggested as effective when placed on sterile gauze pads or a similar dressing and is a means to heal wounds without promoting the development of wound pathogens.
According to a 2012 study, "Mānuka honey dressings significantly reduced the healing time and provided rapid disinfection of neuropathic diabetic foot ulcers in type 2 diabetic patients when compared to conventional dressing".
As for babies and children, one study suggests that Mānuka medical grade honey is "...an attractive, cost-effective approach to treat different wound types in pediatric patients, including severe wounds." If you're looking for a natural way to treat your children's cuts and wounds, Mānuka honey may just be it!
Again, if you or the person you are treating have a history of reactions to or being allergic to honey or pollen, we suggest staying away from honey to treat wounds or consulting your doctor before use.
Tips for applying medical grade Mānuka honey on wounds
For the Happy Mānuka team, UMF 20+ is a staple in our medical cabinets. Having young children means lots of accidents, and we are always leaning towards natural and effective ways to help their delicate skin heal well.
Here are some of the tips our team use when dressing wounds using the medicinal properties of Mānuka honey at home:
Step 1 - Sterilize:
Making sure to have clean hands, clean working surfaces, clean applicators etc. when before dressing any wound, cut or burn.
Step 2 - Honey on dressing:
Honey is sticky and messy. A great way to avoid messiness is to apply the Mānuka honey to the dressing first!
When honey is applied to the skin first, it tends to heat the Mānuka honey fast. If you’re not speedy enough or have a child that loves to move around (join the club), then the best way to avoid a sticky patient is to apply the honey to the dressing first.
Occlusive dressings are ideal for Mānuka honey wound dressings as they are air and watertight, so they almost guarantee no stickiness. These can be expensive, so if you have little ones and are going through plaster like we do, use a larger plaster on the wound instead.
We often try to use a bigger plaster than necessary, so if the Mānuka honey heats up and tries to run, the plaster will likely soak it up before it escapes
Step 3 - Replacing the Dressing:
Refresh the dressing on the wound when its weeping saturates the dressing. There is no need to clean the wound from the previous application of Mānuka honey; just add more fresh Mānuka honey to the new dressing.
As the wound heals, you should be able to decrease the frequency of dressing changes. Don’t forget to wash your hands after dealing with any wound, cut or burn!