Ban­dage soaked in vine­gar to heal burns

Scottish Daily Mail - - Good Health - By ROGER DOB­SON

ASPLASH of vine­gar could help stop wound in­fec­tions and speed up their heal­ing. UK re­searchers have dis­cov­ered that acetic acid, the main com­po­nent of vine­gar, can kill more than two dozen dif­fer­ent forms of bac­te­ria linked to in­fec­tions, and it is now be­ing used in an NHS trial in pa­tients with burns.

Low con­cen­tra­tions of acetic acid may be a use­ful al­ter­na­tive for health work­ers to use in­stead of rub-on an­tibi­otics, say the re­searchers.

Like many wounds, burns are vul­ner­a­ble to be­com­ing in­fected be­cause of the loss of the nor­mal skin bar­rier. Bac­te­ria on the pa­tient’s own skin can be trans­ferred to wounds eas­ily, where they quickly grow and re­pro­duce into large colonies. this bac­te­rial build-up can cause de­layed heal­ing, scar­ring and in­fec­tions.

If un­treated this can lead to se­ri­ous in­fec­tions and even sep­sis, a life-threat­en­ing re­ac­tion that arises from the body’s response to an in­fec­tion. Sep­sis is a lead­ing cause of death among pa­tients with burns.

In­fec­tions of burn wounds are dif­fi­cult to treat with tra­di­tional oral and rub-on an­tibi­otics as they do not reach the skin’s sur­face ef­fec­tively, and re­sis­tance to these drugs is grow­ing. B ACTERIA which get in chronic wounds and burns can also en­close them­selves in a slime or biofilm, where they clump to­gether on a sur­face and be­come more re­sis­tant to treat­ment.

around 130,000 peo­ple with burns visit a&e each year.

Vine­gar, which con­sists mainly of acetic acid and wa­ter, has been used for thou­sands of years as a tra­di­tional rem­edy to clean wounds and stop the spread of in­fec­tions, but it has not been sub­ject to the rig­or­ous as­sess­ment of clin­i­cal tri­als.

now doc­tors at Queen el­iz­a­beth hos­pi­tal Birm­ing­ham are us­ing acetic acid on pa­tients ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal with se­ri­ous burns. the trial fol­lows re­search by the Univer­sity of Birm­ing­ham last year which showed that low con­cen­tra­tions of acetic acid could kill bac­te­ria and stop them grow­ing.

Dur­ing the re­search com­mon wound-in­fect­ing bac­te­ria, in­clud­ing Sta­phy­lo­coc­cus au­reus and e.coli, were ex­posed to low con­cen­tra­tions of acetic acid in a lab­o­ra­tory. the re­sults showed that the acid was able to in­hibit the growth of all 29 strains, and pre­vent them form­ing biofilms.

In the new trial, 20 pa­tients will have their burns treated with a stan­dard dress­ing soaked in one of two con­cen­tra­tions of the acid. the dress­ings will be changed twice a day for five days, and the lev­els of bac­te­ria and rates of heal­ing will be mon­i­tored.

Vine­gars con­tain nat­u­ral acids called polyphe­nols and brown­coloured chem­i­cals called melanoidins, which are thought to kill harm­ful bac­te­ria. how­ever, peo­ple should not self-apply vine­gar to wounds as it can dam­age the skin in cer­tain con­cen­tra­tions: acetic acid treat­ment is only used un­der med­i­cal su­per­vi­sion in cases where in­fec­tion can be­come a prob­lem.

Dr Bav Shergill, a con­sul­tant der­ma­tol­o­gist at Queen Vic­to­ria hos­pi­tal in east grin­stead, says of the find­ings: ‘this re­search looks re­ally in­ter­est­ing and could sup­port our ef­forts against bac­te­rial in­fec­tions.’

MEAN­WHILE, tis­sue de­rived from do­nated pla­centa can re­duce bac­te­rial in­fec­tions and speed up wound heal­ing, ac­cord­ing to re­search pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Func­tional Bio­ma­te­ri­als.

In a study by Rut­gers Univer­sity in the U.S., frozen am­ni­otic mem­brane — the in­ner­most layer of the pla­centa — was used as a dress­ing.

Re­sults showed it was 97 per cent more ef­fec­tive than a stan­dard dress­ing at pre­vent­ing the bac­te­ria form­ing a sticky biofilm that al­lows them to sur­vive.

It’s thought that the pla­cen­tal tis­sue re­leases fac­tors that in­hibit biofilm for­ma­tion, the re­searchers said.

Pic­ture: ALAMY

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