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Yes, sugar can be used to treat minor wounds at home

A graphic on Facebook says you can treat cuts and scrapes at home with a simple kitchen ingredient.

“Putting sugar in a wound will reduce pain and speed up the healing process,” it reads. It shows an illustration of white sugar being poured on a wound and another showing it healed. 

But Facebook users have questioned the graphic’s advice. One commented: “Who approved it?” Another said a citation was needed for the claim. And Facebook’s fact-checking system has flagged the graphic as possibly false. 

Is this safe and accurate advice? We checked. 


Sugar draws fluid from the wound

Africa Check spoke to Prof Timothy Hardcastle, head of the trauma and burns unit at South Africa’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital and professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal

“Yes, sugar or honey is often used by wound care practitioners and sometimes by surgeons in wounds of non-diabetics to help reduce pain and oedema,” he told us. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, a nonprofit American academic medical centre, oedema occurs when excess fluid is trapped in your body’s tissues. 

Hardcastle said the treatment worked by “drawing fluids out of the wound and by lysing organisms in the high-sugar environment”. Lysing is the destruction of a cell

But the treatment shouldn’t be used on people with diabetes

Minor wounds can be treated at home 

Minor wounds should heal on their own. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following steps to treat cuts and scrapes.

  1. Wash your hands to get rid of germs, so that you don’t cause an infection.

  2. Apply pressure with bandage or elevate the wound to stop any bleeding.

  3. Wash the wound with clean water.

  4. Put an antibiotic ointment or petroleum jelly on the wound to keep it moist and prevent scarring.

  5. Cover the wound with a bandage or gauze.

Watch for signs of infection. See a doctor for more serious wounds or if a minor wound does not heal, or becomes infected.

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