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!