Studies show keeping wounds in a moist environment while healing results in less scarring.
Manuka honey is ideal for dressing wounds in a moist environment. It is a well-known wound-healing agent due to its high MGO content, which gives it stronger antibacterial activity than other regular honeys.
Manuka honey is also thick which makes it effective at sealing a wound.
This gives it the ability to heal wounds faster, reduce the chance of infection, and prevent the development of scars.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence to show that manuka honey can lessen the appearance of already formed scars. Therefore, scar prevention is best done at the time of healing.
It's important to choose a high-potency manuka honey when used for this purpose, as not all manuka honey is created equal.
To add to the long list of amazing benefits of manuka honey, we now have good evidence that using manuka honey during wound healing can help reduce the size and appearance of scarring.
To understand why Manuka honey can be good for scars, we should first talk about what scars are and why they happen.
How Scarring Happens
Whenever your skin experiences some kind of trauma, such as cuts, grazes, burns or even acne, your body needs to heal that wound by producing new cells.
All of us have experienced this in our lives.
First, your body clots the blood that is present in the wound.
This helps to form a scab, which acts as a seal so new bacteria and foreign objects cannot get in, and the skin underneath can commence reforming.
To do this, your body starts sending blood to the damaged area.
The body will then start producing collagen and new skin cells to repair the wound.
However, unfortunately our bodies cannot do this perfectly.
If the trauma is big enough, it's not possible to repair the skin to the same integrity as it was before the trauma occurred.
This is why the tissue around the wound appears different to the rest of your skin. We call this scar tissue.
The good news is, there are things you can do to ensure the wound healing is as fast and effective as possible. One way to do this is through wet wound healing or moist wound healing.
In this 2014 study, they found that using manuka honey during wound healing reduced the appearance of scarring.
This 2013 study also found that moist wound healing helps reduce scarring during the healing process.
How does moist wound healing work?
Instead of leaving your wounds to stay dry, you keep the wound moist in a controlled environment.
This usually means using some kind of Vaseline, salve, or - you guessed it - Manuka honey.
While popular folklore and grandma's advice is to let the wound scab over and let the scab fall of, studies are actually showing that keeping the area moist actually fosters better regeneration of the skin cells and proteins, and leaves less or no scarring.
Why Manuka Honey?
Manuka honey is actually the ideal moist wound healing agent, due to its antibacterial nature.
Manuka honey contains a unique compound called MGO, or methylglyoxal.
MGO is a proven antibacterial agent that is unique to manuka honey.
While all honey has some level of antibacterial action due to its hydrogen peroxide content, manuka honey also provides non-peroxide activity due to the MGO it contains.
In simple terms - manuka honey has a dual-action ability to kill bacteria and prevent infections in wounds, and as it's a naturally occurring compound, bacteria cannot grow resistance to it.
This 2018 study found that using Manuka honey as a topical wound treatment eliminates bacteria, resolves chronic inflammation, and promotes faster wound healing. All of this contributes to the reduction of scarring once a wound has healed.
How to use Manuka Honey to reduce scarring
The process is extremely simple.
- Wash the wounded area thoroughly with warm water.
- Using a high grade Manuka honey, put a small fingernail-sized spot of Manuka honey onto the wound, covering it completely.
- Cover the wound with a basic wound dressing.
- Replace the dressing twice a day until healed and keep it dry.
It's that easy!
Can manuka honey remove existing scars?
While Manuka honey is wonderful, there are of course limitations to the wonderful things it can do.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence to show that applying Manuka honey to existing scars will reduce their appearance.
The reduction can only take place while the wound itself is healing.
I have personally used Manuka honey on two major wounds and the results have been exceptional. My first was when I had a mole cut out some years ago and I removed the nurse's dressing and started dressing it with Manuka honey. The wound took about a week before I could stop wearing the dressing but by that time, it had completely closed up with barely a trace!
The second time was when I had a small burn on my hand after doing some handiwork. This one was a little more difficult to manage, as it's hard to have a hand out of commission for several days, but I'm pleased to share it worked just as well. Not a scar in sight.
Next time you have a wound that looks like it may scar, give moist wound healing a try and see if it works.
We've written about this before with more details here.
Which Manuka Honey Is Best For Scars?
We recommend using a high UMF graded manuka honey for moist wound healing, and treating and preventing scars.
Our top recommendation would be the UMF 26 product from NZ Honey Co.
While it's not the highest grade of manuka honey, it's still a world-class quality honey and above hospital-grade, which typically sits around UMF 20.
It's also very reasonably priced - you won't find this purity of manuka at this price point anywhere else.
You can purchase this directly from their website by clicking here!