The treatment of paediatric burns using topical papaya

Burns. 1999 Nov;25(7):636-9. doi: 10.1016/s0305-4179(99)00056-x.


Due to the limited resources for the management of burns in most regions of Africa there is a significant role for many aspects of traditional African medicine. The active component of many traditional preparations is often of plant origin and more than 25 plants have been described as useful in relations to burns and wound healing. Carica papaya is currently used in The Gambia at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Banjul in the Paediatric Unit as the major component of burns dressings, where it is well tolerated by the children. Cheap and widely available, the pulp of the papaya fruit is mashed and applied daily to full thickness and infected burns. It appears to be effective in desloughing necrotic tissue, preventing burn wound infection, and providing a granulating wound suitable for the application of a split thickness skin graft. Possible mechanisms of action include the activity of proteolytic enzymes chymopapain and papain, as well as an antimicrobial activity, although further studies are required.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Burns / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Debridement / methods*
  • Developing Countries
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Gambia
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing / physiology