Nontraditional wound care: A review of the evidence for the use of sugar, papaya/papain, and fatty acids

J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2003 Jul;30(4):175-83. doi: 10.1067/mjw.2003.131.


With global travel and immigration, WOC nurses may see or be asked questions about wound care practices that are different from those traditionally taught in their educational programs. The purpose of this article is to review the evidence about 3 commonly used wound products, namely, sugar, papaya/papain, and essential fatty acids. Although these products are used in numerous countries, their application in Brazil will provide the examples of use in this article. Nontraditional wound care is still frequently practiced even in countries where access to evidence-based products is fairly good. Research studies about sugar, papain/papaya, and essential fatty acids generally are case reports/studies and descriptive. Protocols in the use of the products varied. Use of these products is often based on tradition and economics. WOC nurses need to be knowledgeable regarding nonstandard wound care products and procedures so they can respond appropriately in situations where these products are used.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brazil
  • Carica*
  • Complementary Therapies / methods
  • Debridement / methods
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Papain / therapeutic use*
  • Phytotherapy / methods
  • Skin Care / methods*
  • Skin Care / nursing
  • Sucrose / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wound Healing
  • Wounds and Injuries / nursing*


  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Sucrose
  • Papain