Honey Dressings

For centuries now, honey has been used in wound healing as a topical antibacterial agent. Honey wound dressings are biologic wound dressings with multiple bioactivities which promote healing. Research has shown that honey is immensely therapeutic with an enhanced rate of healing. Medical grade honey is found to work against bacteria and fungi by creating a moist healing environment that is antibacterial in nature. However, not all types of honey are recommended dressing options. Manuka honey is known to be most therapeutic in nature and received US FDA approval in 2007 as a wound treatment option.

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How do Honey dressings work

When honey comes in contact with wound exudate, it gets diluted and releases hydrogen peroxide which has antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Honey is also found to trigger lymphocytic and phagocytic activities which are important body immune responses against infection.

Honey dressings for wounds help in autolytic debridement by removing necrotic tissues from the wound bed. They make dressing change painless and do not disturb tissue growth thus allowing healing to continue unabated. These dressings are found to be effective on hard-to-heal wounds and reduce inflammation and swelling. Honey wound dressings also control unpleasant odors from malodorous wounds.

Features of Honey Dressings

Honey dressings have several healing properties. These include:

  • Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
  • Encourage autolytic debridement
  • Reduces swelling and pain
  • Provides a moist wound environment
  • Effective on malodorous wounds
  • Reduces permanent scarring

When to use Honey Dressings

Honey dressings are found to effectively treat burn wounds, bacterial infections and pressure ulcers. Medical grade honey can be used in skin graft fixation while Manuka honey is found to be effective on venous ulcers with a lot of slough.


  • Superficial burn/first-degree burn
  • Surgical/post-operative wounds
  • Venous ulcers/foot/leg ulcers
  • Diabetic ulcers
  • Partial-thickness burn /second-degree burn
  • Acute/traumatic wounds
  • Donor sites
  • Arterial ulcers
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Partial-thickness wound
  • Full-thickness wound
  • Laceration/abrasion

Contraindications

It is recommended not to use honey dressings for diabetic foot ulcers. Also those with allergies to pollen, honey or bee venom should not opt for honey dressings for wound.

Types of Honey Wound Dressings

Honey dressings for wound care are available with different features. You can choose from absorbent honey dressings, adherent honey dressings, alginate honey dressings, non-adherent honey dressings and wound filler honey dressings.

Base your selection on the following factors:

  • Location of the wound
  • Exudate volume - whether minimal, moderate or high
  • Skin condition – whether healthy or fragile
  • Whether to be used under compression
  • Whether there is infection

There are several popular manufacturers which produce high quality honey wound dressings. These include Dumex/Derma Sciences, Medline Industries and Manukamed which offer trusted brands like MEDIHONEY and TheraHoney.

The Derma Medihoney calcium alginate dressing has 95% active Manuka honey which forms a gel on coming in contact with wound exudate. This dressing type can be used in all stages of wound healing. The TheraHoney Gauze honey sheet dressing from Medline has 100% sterile and medical-grade Manuka honey. It allows exudate to pass into a secondary dressing and can be used for wounds with any drainage level.