Scars are regions of the skin that have been replaced by fibrous tissue after an injury by a process called fibrosis.
Scar formation is a completely natural part of the process of tissue repair and wound healing.
Every external wound heals with at least some degree of scarring.
What is manuka honey?
Manuka honey is a special type of honey found in New Zealand that is famous for its many health benefits. It is derived from the nectar of wild Manuka trees that are indigenous to New Zealand, and contain special compounds that are not found in regular honey that are the reason for the may beneficial properties it exhibits.
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What makes manuka honey special?
One main compound found in manuka honey and not in any other kinds is called methylglyoxal. This compound is believed to be the major factor for most of the properties of manuka honey, such as its antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial and antiseptic properties.
As this compound is widely believed to be the one that is instrumental in making manuka honey famous worldwide for its health benefits, the levels of methylglyoxal present in different manuka honey is considered a measure of its potency.
For store bought honey, there is a rating system that can be used based on the methylglyoxal levels present to indicate potency and purity.
What is UMF rating?
This is the UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating system. Higher the level of methylglyoxal, higher the rating. Manuka honey with a rating below 10 is considered as effective as any regular honey, and hence for maximum effect manuka honey with rating of 10 and above should be used.
How does manuka honey help in reducing scarring? How?
There are several benefits manuka honey can provide to reduce scars. Here they are –
Wound Healing Effect of Manuka Honey
A study published in February 2014 looked into the influence of manuka honey and three other compounds used in dressings on the pH level and the environment within the wound . The manuka honey dressing was observed to have a low pH. This indicates that manuka honey creates an acidic environment in the wound.
An acidic environment is important for the process of wound healing as it manages to reduce the risk of infection and also contributes to the effect of antimicrobial action . It has been seen that in wounds with alkaline or neutral pH, the risk of infection is significantly larger and the time taken for the healing of the wound is a lot longer.
The findings of this study, hence, manages to prove that manuka honey can effectively create an environment within the wound wherein healing can take place a lot faster and with more efficiency. Faster and more efficient wound healing reduces the amount of scar tissue that is formed.
Hence, manuka honey when used in wound dressings is able to maintain an environment in the wound surface that promotes the reduction in wound size as part of the healing process and in addition, it also lowers the pH in alkaline wounds.
What it means: Manuka honey promotes faster and more efficient healing of open wound tissue. When this process is faster, the scar formation within the wound becomes minimal. More efficient healing process significantly limits the fibrosis and excess scar tissue is not formed.
Manuka Honey prevents scarring
Honey, when applied to an area of a healing wound is also known to substantially reduce the amount of scar tissue formed. This effect of honey has been the focus of one study that was conducted in 2014.
This study was performed on rats, and 16 of them were taken each for undergoing a laminectomy (surgery that generally results in a large amount of scar formation on the back) . About 50% of the total sample had simply the surgery performed on them. On the other half, surgery was performed followed by the application of honey to the area of the healing wound.
It was observed that scar formation was significantly less in the rats that had been treated with honey compared to the ones that hadn’t been. Hence it was proved that honey can effectively prevent the formation of scars and fibrosis.
Though this effect has been studied exclusively in regular honey, it also applies to manuka honey as this particular New Zealand honey is known to contain every property of regular honey along with some extra beneficial compounds that give it all the beneficial health effects it is so famous for.
What it means: manuka honey can significantly reduce the amount of scar tissue formed when the honey is applied directly onto the area of the healing tissue. This effect has been studied on rats after surgical scars were induced on their skin.
How to Use ?
For the use of manuka honey on wounds to reduce the formation of scars, the manuka honey must be directly applied topically to the wound. A wound dressing for this purpose can be created.
Manuka honey, when used in wound dressings, should be applied to the dressing and not directly to the wound. A fairly thick coat of manuka honey should be applied on the dressing before laying the dressing gently and carefully on the wound .
The amount of manuka honey that should be used for this purpose depends on the amount of fluid or exudate that is coming out of the wound. As a general rule, the more the fluid, more is manuka honey required to neutralise it and have an antimicrobial action .
Manuka honey dressing pads are commercially available as well. These provide a much more clean and practical alternative to preparing homemade wound dressings.
The UMF rating should be checked in case of store bought manuka honey.
Some people are allergic to honey, especially those who have already have allergies to bees or pollen. In such as case, a patch test is recommended at least 48 hours prior to the consumption of the manuka honey.
Botulism poisoning can be a serious risk if manuka honey is consumed by children below the age of 1 year.
Diabetic people may consume manuka honey, but need to keep a strict check on their blood sugar levels after consumption.
Manuka honey helps open wounds from surgeries or injuries heal in a faster and more efficient way, while also ensuring that the pH of the wound remains stable so as to prevent any bacterial or fungal infections.
Faster healing limits the amount of fibrosis that takes place on the surface of the wound and thus reduces scar formation. Manuka honey has been studied on rats to significantly reduce the formation of scar tissue after surgery.