Comparison of propolis skin cream to silver sulfadiazine: a naturopathic alternative to antibiotics in treatment of minor burns

J Altern Complement Med. 2002 Feb;8(1):77-83. doi: 10.1089/107555302753507203.


Background: Propolis, a naturopathic substance derived from bees wax extract, has recently been praised for its antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and cicatrization-enhancing properties.

Objective: In our study, we compare these properties in a high-grade Brazilian propolis skin cream directly with silver sulfadiazene (SSD) in the treatment of minor burns (superficial second degree) in the ambulatory care setting (less than 20% total body surface area burned).

Settings/location: The study was conducted at the burn clinic in Pronto Socorro para Queimaduras, Gioania, Brazil.

Subject: Patients were admitted to the study only if their initial presentation for burn care was within 48 hours postinjury and if bilateral wounds of similar depth and quality were present.

Interventions: Patients had propolis skin cream applied to one wound and SSD applied to the other selected wound on initial presentation and underwent debridement and dressings change the following morning. Patients subsequently returned to the clinic every 3 days to have the wounds checked and dressings changed. At these check-ups, wounds were cultured for microbial growth and photographed to document inflammation and cicatrization. Patients were instructed not to disturb their wounds or change their dressings at home, thus propolis skin cream and SSD were applied to the wounds only at the specified 3-day intervals.

Results: Our preliminary results do not show any significant difference in microbial colonization between wounds treated with SSD and propolis skin cream, however, wounds treated with propolis skin cream consistently showed less inflammation and more rapid cicatrization then those treated with SSD.

Conclusion: Propolis skin cream appears to have a beneficial effects on the healing of partial thickness burn wounds. If dressings had been changed more frequent the antimicrobial and wound healing effects would have been enhanced.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Brazil
  • Burns / complications
  • Burns / drug therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Occlusive Dressings
  • Ointments
  • Propolis / administration & dosage*
  • Silver Sulfadiazine / administration & dosage*
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / etiology
  • Skin Diseases, Bacterial / prevention & control*
  • Time Factors
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Ointments
  • Propolis
  • Silver Sulfadiazine