Aim: To determine the efficacy of honey in burn wound management.
Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials which compared the efficacy of honey with a comparator dressing treatment in the management of burns. The main outcome measure was the proportion of subjects with wounds healed at 15 days.
Results: Eight studies with 624 subjects were included in the meta-analysis. The quality of the studies was poor with each study having a Jadad score of 1. Six studies were undertaken by the same investigator. In most studies unprocessed honey covered by sterile gauze was compared with silver sulphadiazine-impregnated gauze. The fixed effects odds ratio for healing at 15 days was 6.1 (95% CI 3.7 to 9.9) in favour of honey having a superior effect. The random effects pooled odds ratio was 6.7 (95% CI 2.8 to 15.8) in favour of honey treatment. The secondary outcome variables all showed significantly greater efficacy for honey treatment.
Conclusion: Available evidence indicates markedly greater efficacy of honey compared with alternative dressing treatments for superficial or partial thickness burns, although the limitations of the studies included in the meta-analysis restrict the clinical application of these findings. Further studies are urgently required to determine the role of honey in the management of superficial or partial thickness burns.