Friday, September 16, 2011

Honey on a Burn

13 days ago I was volunteering at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum for their Harvest Days weekend.  They do a weekend every year at this time that shows field to table how wheat used to be processed.  and I was volunteering in the final stage - baking! 

It's fun, people come by and watch you bake (it's quite a spectator's sport) and get to sample the goodies.  Cinnamon buns are the favourite. 

I was stirring it up this year with sweet scones.  They have a standard recipe book that they use, but I was being rebellious and brought my own recipe.

Anyhow, part-way through my shift, I brushed my arm up against the oven door.  Now, I'm no novice at getting burns.  One time I stuck my fingers a little too far into my laser printer and touched the drum ... you know the one with the big warning saying "DO NOT TOUCH THE DRUM, EXTREMELY HOT, 400 DEGREES CELCIUS, YOU WILL GET BURNED".  And, man, did I get burned.  But I immediately stuck my fingers into icy water and kept them there until they stopped hurting - which ended up being a good 3 hours.  But, no burn, no redness, nothing.  It truly worked!  And that's what I do when I get a burn at home.  Immediately into the ice water and leave it there.  After a while, it becomes awkward (have you ever noticed how awkward a word "awkward" is?) or too cold so I take the burn out of the ice water, but within seconds it hurts again.  So I just put it back in, until it stops hurting when it comes away from the icy water.

Anyhow, two weekends ago, I was in the bottom floor of the museum with no ice and lukewarm water and I really didn't think the burn was all that bad, so I had a wet paper towel and not much else for about 1/2 an hour until I abandoned my berth and went to the coffee room to get some ice.  Bad move.  I should have done it much sooner.  I got the worst burn I think I've ever had - a second-degree burn for sure.  A week later, this is what it looked like:

I was standing there at the museum after my baking shift, showing my burn to someone (because everyone asks when you're holding ice on your arm) and, from nowhere, said that I thought I should to put honey on it.  The person I was talking to pulled a bottle of unpasturized honey from her bag - she just happened to buy it at the Farmer's Market that they have at the museum every year on that weekend (locally grown in Ponoka) - and she gave me a glob to take home.  Now, mind you, I didn't put honey on it right away.  I continued with the ice for a couple of hours.  But when I got home and ready for bed that night I put a thin layer of it on the burn, put a gauze pad on and went to bed.  I continued to do this night and day for over a week.  I have to say that in the 8 or 9 days that I did this, I tried using polysporin on it twice.  The first time it made it worse than the honey, the second time there was no difference. 

While using honey on the burn, it didn't dry out, the skin didn't blister (although the top layer did come off, there were no fluid-filled blisters per se), and there was no sign of infection.  After I was able to leave the dressing off, it got a good scab, but the areas around the edge just flaked off and new skin was there underneath. 

Then, last night, there was a dime-sized scab on it (much smaller than the original wound), and I thought that I would try the honey again.  This is what is looks like about 8 hours later (I really wish I had taken a "before" picture last night, but I had no idea how amazing the difference would be) the scab is almost gone and the main part of it reduced by more than half.  It's not the best picture, but it's truly a miraculous change just over night.

I wonder how it would have healed without the honey?  The only way to know would be to do a controlled experiment where I gave myself two similar burns and treated one with honey, the other without.  And, frankly, I'm not going to do that.  But I have to say that when I got the idea to put honey on a burn, all my father's training screamed "infection" at me (my dad was an ambulance driver for 14 years, and he taught us first aid from the earliest possible time in our lives which I am truly grateful for).  I figured that putting anything other than the petroleum-based, plastic-contained, drugstore remedy would cause an infection and make it worse.  But instinct won out against better judgment and I tried what FELT right.  And it worked.

Now where did the idea come from to use honey?  I DID watch a show a few weeks back where someone used a honey and garlic mixture to fix a problem on their foot (not a burn, didn't actually say what it was, but I assume fungus).  And that did run through my mind, but I've NEVER heard of someone using honey on a burn (not that I remember, anyhow).  It was like a little message from somewhere.  So whoever sent it .... THANKS!  I will always put water on a burn first, but if I need to dress it with something, I'll be using unpasturized honey.  It was pretty close to miraculous.

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