Senior Lecturer Moses Murandu grew up in Zimbabwe and
his father used granulated sugar to heal wounds and reduce pain
when he was a child. But when he moved to the UK, he realised that
sugar was not used for this purpose here. Find out more about this
winning research below.
Although widely used in Africa there is limited evidence to
support the use of granulated sugar to treat wounds. But there is
an increasing evidence of the benefit of honey in wound care.
Granulated sugar and honey works in a similar way because both have
higher sucrose content that interferes with water activity (De Foe
2004, Mpande et al 2005, Chirife et al 1980). This has potential
benefit in encouraging wound debridement.
To determine whether granulated sugar is effective when used on
managing exudating wounds/ulcers and develop a protocol for
use in a Randomised Controlled Trial.
Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria:
Clinical studies: Evidence collected, during the course
of the pilot study found that most patients presenting with chronic
wounds faced a number of challenges which included peripheral
vascular disease, poor nutritional status and limited understanding
of their chronic illnesses.
Pain: Pain and comfort can be a deciding factor when
choosing a reliable, efficient dressing for any patient. Some
patients suffered from limited mobility due to pain. It was
observed that in the case of four patients, their use of this
medication reduced and their pain was managed well using simple
analgesics such as Paracetamol and Codeine.
Diabetic Patients: Blood sugar levels for diabetic
patients remained stable for all seven patients.
Odour: We had not anticipated the immediate and
dramatic decrease in wound odour which enabled us to move patients
from isolation to the open ward within 24 hours of commencing
treatment, or the marked reduction in analgesic requirements,
particularly in venous ulcer patients who had previously refused
bed rest and elevation on the grounds that this position was
Wound Debridement: Most patients accepted into the
study had wounds that were heavily exudating with sloughy necrotic
tissue on entering study, after 14 days of sugar treatment, there
was evidence of debridement.
It is important to note that skin breakdown is a problem to
health care around the globe and costs the National Health Service
(NHS) around £2.3-£3.1 billion per year (Posnett and Franks
Despite years of research there is still a search for optimal
methods to enhance treatments. Methods range from complex and
expensive pharmaceutical treatments to the simple such as sugar and
honey. Simple and non-expensive treatments would save costs to the
NHS but would also make treatment options in poorer parts of the
We were impressed by the adaptability of the sugar dressing
technique to all varieties of wound, whether superficial or deep,
dry or exudative and to the temporal flexibility with which it
could be deployed, from twice-daily to once-weekly.
Sugar inhibits bacterial growth so it is plausible that sugar
can reduce or prevent infection of wounds from a microbiological
point of view.
Future directions/ongoing work:
A large randomised controlled trial is at the final planning
stage and it is anticipated that it will commence in the autumn of
Chirife J, Herszage L, Joseph A, Kohn ES (1983). In vitro study
of bacterial growth inhibition in concentrated sugar
solutions:microbiological basis for the use of sugar in treating
infected wounds. Antimicrob Agents Chemother; 23:
De Feo, M., De Santo, L. S., Romano, G., Renzulli, A., Della
Corte, A., Utili, R., Cotrufo, M. (2003). Treatment of recurrent
staphylococcal mediastinitis: still a controversial issue. Ann.
Thorac. Surg. 75: 538-542
Mphande, A.N.G. Kilowe, C., Phalira, S., Jones, H.W. and
Harrison, W.J. (2005). Effects of honey and sugar dressings on the
wound healing. The International Journal of Lower Extremity
Wounds. 5, 1, 40-54
Posnett, J and Franks, P (2007) The cost of skin breakdown and
ulceration in the UK in Smith and Nephew Foundation (2007)
Skin Breakdown - the silent epidemic. snfoundation, uk
Price. P (1998) Health-related quality of life and the patient’s
perspective. Journal of Wound Care 7(7) 365-366.
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