Nontraditional woundcare: sugar dressings

by nadine on November 24, 2011

Dating back to ancient times, sugar, honey and other sugar containing substances have been applied to wounds to promote healing.   This modality is especially useful in areas where sugar is cheap and plentiful.

Sugar essentially works to by drawing moisture from the wound thereby creating an environment hostile to bacterial growth.  Sugar dressings have been noted to decrease odor, reduce wound drainage and surrounding edema, and stimulate growth of granulation tissue.   Remember, with time (hours), as fluid is drawn out of the wound, the sugar will become syrup-like and will thereby loose its antibacterial effects.  So additional sugar must be applied regularly to the area to remain effective.

Caution: Be careful in patients with pre-existing renal dysfunction.  There have been reports of severe hyponatremia and acute kidney failure in patients with these conditions.  Systemic effects such as impaired glucose intolerance have not been shown in patients treated with sugar dressings.

 

How to do it:

  • Place gauze moistened with povidone-iodine solution or saline onto the wound.
  • Coat this with granulated sugar (~0.5-0.75cm thickness)- honey works too!
  • Within a few hours, as the sugar draws moisture from the wound, the sugar will become liquid, syrup-like.  As stated previously, when this occurs bacterial growth may be promoted, so it is critical to add more sugar to the dressing as needed, often several times/day.

 

I have personally never used this modality for wound care, although I have often heard about its utility.  If anyone has any actual experience doing sugar dressings, please let us know!

 

 

 

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Elaine S June 9, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Hi there… I did some research into using sugar to close a large, gaping wound resulting from a snake bite on a dog’s front leg. The wound resulted when the area around the bite turned necrotic and had to be removed. The wound was quite deep.

To treat, I flushed several times a day with a mixture of Betadine & water (color of weak tea) and then packed the wound with a sterile, sugar based product called Multi-dex. Covered with a non-stick Tefla pad and put a light wrapping on it to keep it clean. The wound filled & closed quickly within 7-10 days, as I remember. No additional infection or necroses occurred. The dog even grew hair back over the area!

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nadine June 30, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Thank you for your comments. It’s nice to hear from someone with actual experience

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Judith Simmons December 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I have become familiar with a wound exiting the body as an enclosed cyst ( deep pus pocket) the size of a golf ball. The wound was never painful. It was opened up and drained of the pus at a doctors office and for about a month twice a day the hole was filled as full of granulated sugar as the wound would hold and a dressing placed over it. It would get syrupy before each dressing change and the area was cleansed only with shower water each day. The wound became smaller with time and gradually closed shut and healed. This procedure was accomplished at home by the person who had the wound.

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