Honey for Healing Cuts and Burns

Natural Remedy- Honey helps speed healing of cuts burns and wounds

I’m often amazed at things that our generation thinks we’ve discovered, only to find out that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers had been using them for years. An excellent example of this is using honey for healing wounds.

I’d seen some studies recently on using honey in hospitals for helping wounds and burns heal and I’d also known veterinarians who had used it on animals, so I started looking in to it more.

I also mentioned it to several people, and the ones old enough to remember more than a couple decades ago remembered using honey as a remedy. What’s old is new again, I suppose. I’d personally used honey internally for digestive problems and mixed with cinnamon during illnesses, but am glad to see all the research on topical ways to use it for healing wounds as well.

Research on Honey for Healing

Often, it seems that there is an unspoken divide between natural remedies and conventional medicine, but honey bridges this gap. There is a great deal of research supporting the use of certain types of honey in a medical setting, and it has been a natural remedy for centuries.

Research is even showing the ability of honey to help in cases of MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and MSSA (methicillin sensitive Staphylococcus aureus), which are resistant to antibiotics.

This study explains:

“Honey works differently from antibiotics, which attack the bacteria’s cell wall or inhibit intracellular metabolic pathways. Honey is hygroscopic, meaning it draws moisture out of the environment and thus dehydrates bacteria. Its sugar content is also high enough to hinder the growth of microbes, but the sugar content alone is not the sole reason for honey’s antibacterial properties.

When honey is diluted with water, reducing its high sugar content, it still inhibits the growth of many different bacterial species that cause wound infections.

In addition to its antibacterial properties, medical honey hastens the healing of wounds through its anti-inflammatory effects. The amount of wound exudate is related to the activity of the local inflammatory process, in particular in wounds, which are colonized or infected with bacteria. Thus, the anti-inflammatory action of honey reduces oedema and the amount of exudate by down regulating the inflammatory process. It also reduces pain, as the pain in wounds results from the nerve endings being sensitized by prostaglandins produced in the process of inflammation, as well from the pressure on tissues resulting from oedema.”

Research has also shown the benefit of using certain types of honey when dressing burns. An especially compelling study showed that none of the nine most common organisms found in burn wounds could survive even a 30% concentration of raw honey. Another study showed that 28 of strains of bacteria that are most-resistant to antibiotics were all eliminated by raw honey.

Honey has been used in a medical setting for the following:

  • As a salve on burns to reduce rates of infection and speed healing
  • On amputee patients to speed recovery and reduce risk of complications
  • In deep or puncture wounds- honey is used to fill the wound as it heals
  • On bedsores
  • On surgical wounds to speed healing
  • On puncture wounds
  • To fill abscesses after they have been drained to prevent complications

I know several midwives who recommend honey to patients to speed healing after a c-section.

My Personal Experience

My husband recently got a pretty severe cut on his foot. It had visibly cut through a vein and took a long time to stop bleeding. For several days after he cut it, it would re-open and bleed if he did too much activity.

I wish I’d remembered to try honey right away, but as soon as I remembered, I applied it to his foot. By the next morning, some of the redness was gone and after two days, it had closed up and was no longer bleeding if he moved around too much. I now also use raw manuka honey in place of antibiotic ointment for all cuts/burns at our house.

How to Use Honey for Healing

Regular raw honey can be used for healing, but a specific type has been shown to be most effective: Manuka Honey. It is made by bees after they pollinate the manuka (tea tree) flowers, giving it additional antibacterial properties.

It is important to only use raw (and preferably manuka) honey for wounds and burns. Regular honey found in most grocery stores has been heated and sometimes chemically altered, making it ineffective for wounds.

Regular raw/manuka honey can be used and I keep both of those on hand, but I also keep a specific medical-grade honey on hand since it has been verified to have a high concentration of manuka for additional antibacterial properties. I have the following three things at our house for burns and cuts:

  1. Medihoney Gel for burns and cuts
  2. Medihoney wound paste
  3. Medihoney wound dressings for big wounds

Sources & Additional Reading:

Manuka honey inhibits the development of Streptococcus pyogenes biofilms and causes reduced expression of two fibronectin binding proteins

The Evidence Supporting the Use of Honey as a Wound Dressing

Effectiveness of honey on Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilms.

Topical Application of Honey in Treatment of Abdominal Wound Disruption

Medical Honey for Wound Care

Have you ever used honey as a natural remedy? How did you use it?

Research supports the use of honey for healing cuts, burns, puncture wounds because of its natural antibacterial properties.

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Reader Comments

  1. I use Manuka Honey as well for the cuts and scrapes that happen in our house. We have used it help kill and heal the skin from plantars warts, applying it on deep pimples eliminates pain, swelling, and dries them up. Honey is also fabulous post labor, I know midwives who have their mamas pour honey (regular raw honey) onto the pads used for post labor bleeding – it speeds the healing of the tissues and soothes the burning, sensitivity, and discomfort. It sounds sticky, but it is such a comfort! Great post :o)

  2. I’ve heard about honey’s antibacterial properties, and I use it in a lot of ways. I have been wanting to make some kind of natural Neosporin-type salve. If I wanted to make something myself, what would you suggest? Straight raw/manuka honey? Or maybe mix it with coconut oil so it’s not as sticky? Thanks for this post!

  3. Honey is awesome. It’s the main ingredient in the burn ointment I use now – B&W Ointment. My first serious test of it was when I had a quarter-sized, 2nd degree burn on the back of my hand – the top layer of skin melted – due to an oven mishap. They say you’re supposed to use that ointment in conjunction with a burdock leaf (as a dressing), but I didn’t have any, so I just used a Band-Aid at first. That didn’t feel good though, so I tried a grape leaf instead, and the pain immediately went away. (Our grape vines haven’t produced much in the way of fruit yet, but it’s good to know the leaves are good for something!) Changed the dressing every day. The burn never blistered, it healed really fast (less than a week), and there is no scar. Very pleased. It’s great on dry, cracked skin, too. I use plain honey for sore throats.

  4. I get recurrent nasal impetigo infections. I’ve been to numerous doctors and an infectious disease specialist, and no one has been able to resolve the issue. For years I used antibiotic creams (most recently Altabax), which worked, but destroyed my nose in the process, replacing the impetigo blisters with raw painful and sometimes bleeding skin. I experimented with many other natural treatments and remedies with little success. Two years ago I read about Manuka honey and tried it. It is amazing. I apply directly to the blisters (which usually occur right inside my nostrils) several times a day. It still can take over a week to clear the infection, but there is no longer pain or raw destroyed skin.

    • Thank you for this! My son has a post strep related impetigo all over his face. I’ve been rotating raw manuka honey, coconut oil with a touch of oregano oil ixed in, and calendula cream. We seem to be making progress.

  5. I’ve been using raw honey to wash my face in the morning. I’ve been fighting acne since I was a teenager and finally at 38, I’ve found a way to get rid of it!

    • What type of honey do you use as a cleanser, and do you dilute it with anything else? Thanks!

    • Would you tell how you use it fir your face?

  6. Though I have never heard of honey used for burns and cuts; I will be getting some now. Infact a family member just had surgery so I am going to tell my MIL about this so maybe she can help him heal faster. Thanks for the post. 🙂

    We do use local honey for a home remedy to avoid allergies during the season change. Its very effective.

    As well as I do, a combo of honey, tumeric, and black pepper to help ease pain. Its not very tasty especially when you get a ball of pepper but I think it gives good results.

    • How do you use raw honey for seasonal allergies? Do you take it internally?

    • I had a basal cell removed from my nose and the wound was very deep. I used honey to heal the wound. No Antibiotics…only honey.. and it has healed beautifully.

  7. I just did this the other day for the first time- its ironic you just posted this! I had a few open cuts on my knuckles & neosporin was struggling to make any difference. I put a bit of raw honey on each cut and covered them with a bandage before bed. The next morning they were visibly (finally!) healing, and healed quickly over the next several days.

  8. I’ve used a raw honey/ turmeric/ black pepper paste on my dog’s infected tick bites. Super effective, the infection was gone within a day and the wound healed in 2 days.

  9. My husband nearly chopped his thumb off with an axe recently, and was told he would likely need a skin graft. After a few weeks applying manuka honey to his wound, it had completely closed up. The doctors were astounded by his recovery. (He also had many, many people praying for him. Well, the Lord graciously led him to this specific remedy!) So glad it works!

  10. What medical grade honey do you use? Do you have a link?

  11. I’ve found through personal experience that lavender essential oil works like a charm to help heal burns. I apply directly after it happens. I’m talking about burns from the wood stove and a 450 degree oven – ouch! The pain quickly subsides and it heals quickly…and I smell wonderful!

    • I’ve found that cod liver oil applied topically to burns causes the burn to disappear within a few hours. You need to apply the oil immediately after being burned and it stings a bit. If you waited too long to apply the cod liver oil it won’t sting but also won’t make the burn disappear. I’ve treated deep burns where the skin is charred white and deeply dented from camp fires and directly touching the heating element of the stove.

  12. I used honey on myself and my lil mini poodle after we both received a severe burn from just boiled tea. 🙁 it healed wonderfully. I alternated with aloe vera. I am currently using honey to slowly lighten the bottom layer of my hair. the rest is henna’d.

  13. And the ver the summer, I burned the back of my calf severely. The large patch began to heal, but after a week, it started to hurt and ooze and swell. I thought I’d have to go to the doctors….. Luckily, my roommate had some honey and put it on my leg. With in 24 hours the swelling and oozing was gone…..48 and the pain was gone….2 weeks later is was completely healed. No scar, no discoloration. I was amazed.

  14. What brand of manuka honey do you buy?

  15. Hi Katie!

    When i have tried honey for wounds in the past, it was a frustrating experience since it needed to be covered due to the stickiness, but the stickiness also prevented bandaids from sticking. Any tips?

  16. So even if the honey is just organic it still won’t work?

  17. I had a boil on my hip and it became infected. I put honey on gauze and taped it over the area. And this was years ago…so not even raw or manuka honey. I did see a Dr. who lanced it, but he asked me…”I can see this was badly infected, but it’s fine now, what did you do???” He was really amazed when I told him honey! Thanks for the article!

  18. When I was a kid, about 30 years ago (whoa!), my parents were involved in the local Bee Keepers’ Society. During that time, one day I accidentally bumped my mom and she spilled fresh, super hot coffee down the front of her. She immediately blistered all over her chest. That night, she and my dad went to a Bee Keeper’s meeting. The leader looked at my mom’s burns and told her to put honey on it the moment they got home. It would not only remove the pain immediately, but also heal it quickly.

    Ever since then, we have included it heavily in all our cuts and burns…and we love it! I have our 4 girls trained to run to the honey then bring it to me to administer to their wounds.

    And I use it with the older girls as a great zit/skin cleanser/healer. We scoop out a teaspoon of honey, and smear it on our face and T-zone. Then, we proceed to “snap” it…simply putting 2 fingers from each hand on, say, our cheeks, and pulling them off quickly…over and over. You have to do this for a while before the honey gets REALLY sticky, and you start hearing the snapping. What this does is pull out the grease and grime from your pores, as well as open and clean any trouble areas/wounds/zits. Then you wash off with as hot water as you can stand. You’re left with really soft skin that should heal quicker!

    Great post! Keep them up! I love all that you report on! Thanks a million!

    • I use honey as a cleanser and mask on my face (for acne) but had never heard of your ‘snapping’ technique! I’ll have to give it a go, thanks!

  19. Thanks for the post!
    What are the ingredients of the Medihoney products you’ve linked, besides the honey?
    Also, where do you buy your raw manuka honey?

  20. I love using honey on cuts and burns. I have used in the past as a face wash. I also use it on stings too. Works great for that!

  21. I use honey frequently and most recently used it after a knee replacement surgery. Working great the scar is almost gone. Also great for chapped lips.

  22. Here is a tip from an old old pamphlet i got 30 years ago… Honey for any kind of sting. It works the stinger and venom out. also does the same for splinters. Amazing!

  23. Hi Katie,

    I currently use the madhava organic raw honey at my house in cooking and facial scrubs, but was wondering if it was the same as the manuka raw honey? Your answer would be greatly appreciated….
    My husband gets really bad acne sores on his back from blogging all day and we can’t seem to get them to heel. We have tried just about everything, except for the honey remedy. I will wait for your reply before I try it though because I need to know if I should go get the manuka brand.
    Thank you!

    • It won’t have the same antibacterial properties as manuka but will still offer some benefit!

  24. For burns, I always have an aloe vera plant at hand. The burning sensation stops very quickly and the wound heals three times as fast as if you just let it be. I burnt myself in two different places once, on the inside of my arm, so just to experiment I just put aloe vera on one spot, and antiseptic cream and a plaster (bandaid) on the other. The aloe vera spot has long disappeared while the other one can still be seen years later.
    And it is just so handy to just chop of a bit of a leaf and just smear the jelly like flesh on the wound!

  25. About 10 years ago peeling chrome over plastic on the recessed interior door handle of my car nearly sliced the pad off the end of one of my fingers. I had just arrived at my son’s to help them move into a recently purchased home. It took my daughter-in-law about 20 minutes to stop the bleeding enough to apply a bandage. She finally had to put a tourniquet on my finger to stop the flow long enough to apply the band-aid. I then worked for hours helping with the move. When I got home late that evening I showered and lost the bandage on my finger. Now, I am alone and my finger is bleeding freely into the sink. The only thing I could think of to stem the flow enough to get a bandage on the finger was honey. I got the honey bear bottle (yes, pasteurized honey) from the kitchen, Applied it to the cut. Put on a band-aid and went to bed. Two days later I was able to go without any bandage at all as the healing was miraculous.

    A few months prior to this I had been bitten by a spider. The out of pocket cost of healing the spider bite was around $300 between doctor’s office and pharmacy. It also took about a month of treatment. After the experience with the honey and the cut, I was again bitten by the same type of spider. When I discovered the bite, the blister was already broken. I applied honey to the spider bite ONCE and it was fully healed in a couple of days. After that, I moved as the house I lived in at that time was infested with tiny white spiders.

    Today, I only buy raw honey and it is my go to for any small wound. But, my point in telling you all this is that in a pinch even pasteurized honey has phenomenal healing power.

  26. I am so glad to see this article. I am a nurse and we occasionally used gauze soaked in honey (comes prepackaged) for hard to heal wounds and burns. I have never made the connection to use it at home though. I will now be adding it to my arsenal of home remedies! Thanks Katie!

  27. Have you ever heard of it healing external fissures caused by hemorrhoids? I’ve tried (I’m pretty sure) everything. The pain & discomfort has been plaguing me for over a year now, and for obvious reasons, that area is hard to heal since we use it every day.

  28. Can someone recommend a reputable brand of manuka honey? I heard some are better than others.

    • manuka health New Zealand. I have the MGO 250+, the higher the number the more antibacterial properties it has.

  29. I am a Wound Nurse at a Pediatric Hospital and we use MediHoney products all the time on patients with burns and wounds you’ve talked about! I’ve followed your posts for 1+year, fun to see you post this! MediHoney products work wonders, that Honey is the only hospital grade honey they have approved yet, it’s specially sterilized and from New Zealand. I am also up for trying home remidies and have usd many of your tips and tricks. I will have to give raw honey or manuka honey a try! Thanks!

  30. I have also used honey on my skin as a mask and it leaves my skin feeling so soft. My husband makes fun of me for all the food from my kitchen I use for beauty products. Thanks for all your great information I know many are blessed by it!

    • Don’t need to buy the expensive Manuka honey! Get regular raw honey @ grocery store! Why spend too much extra money for medicisl honey!!!! I scratched my nose and upper lip with swollen
      Under my nose? My elderly neighbor told me to use raw honey 2-3
      Times a day until it developed a scab. The honey helped dry up and heal my wounds. I have no scars and its healed up great!!! Use raw honey inexpensive brand on bandages or on wounds!!!!!

      • Great point, but important to note that most grocery store honey is NOT raw and has been heated. Make sure any honey specifically is labeled as raw or it probably isn’t.

  31. The Medihoney description and reviews are amazing. I’ve never heard of this product but want to buy some for my house and also to send to my mother who is in a wheelchair and often injures her toes when they slip off the foot rest and scrape on the ground. She can’t feel it but it makes horrible wounds on her feet. I’m interested in both the gel and the wound paste. Can you tell me how you use each? How would you choose one over the other? Thank you! I’m going to send my mom one (or both?) for Mother’s Day!

    • I use both by just squeezing/spreading over the wound and covering with a bandage or gauze.

  32. Honey is SOO amazing!! Thank you for this post!! I was just thinking about how I want to get rid of my neosporin!!

  33. What brand of manuka honey do you use

  34. This is too funny! I just took my Chameleon to the vet yesterday because his fingers are dark brown underneath. The vet suggested that it’s burns from grabbing onto his UVB/UVA lights that sit on the top of the enclosure (which I’ve since raised off of his home) and said that a small dab of honey on the bottoms of his toes would help to heal them naturally, and since he doesn’t groom, it will stay put. Then loe and behold, I pull up your website today, and the spotlight is over honey! I love it! 🙂

  35. Got a cut yesterday and happened ot have read this on Sunday and it worked like a charm thanks!

    • How fast it take it to heal

  36. Some snake oil salesman at a Farmers Market in Florida was trying to sell me some sort of Honey Bee Miracle Healing Cream. The literature in his booth suggested it solved all the world’s problems. This cream was as white as the pure driven snow, yet he claimed the main ingredient (as listed in the order on his label) was honey. I read the label further and it also included Royal Bee Jelly, Distilled Water, Vitamin E, etc. Continuing to read the label, I saw there was no preservative listed in the ingredients. When I asked about the lack of a preservative, he proclaimed, “Honey is a natural preservative.” I wanted to laugh in his face, but was too stunned by his remark. Even if this were Manuka Honey, which has some very remarkable properties, HONEY IS NOT A PRESERVATIVE. (BTW, neither is Vitamin E.) First of all, once honey is mixed with water its properties are compromised. Also, Royal Bee Jelly is made up of about 60-70% water, and then he included distilled water on his label. With all that water in his formula, it would be a breeding mecca for fungi and bacterial growth. There is no way that he could have made this cream without a preservative and expect it to last more than a week..under refrigeration. Even worse, he was selling this stuff in the Florida sunshine. I personally think he is using some pre-made commercial base cream (which contains a preservative) and then adding some honey and other ingredients to it. Even if that’s the case, his label is still illegal by FDA regulations. He must disclose all the ingredients in his cream. When I asked him how long his cream would remain good to use, he said, “Oh, at least 3 years!!” LOOK, I like honey for all the good points you have brought out, but please understand that honey is not a preservative and that once any water in any form is introduced, that it is a breeding ground for fungi and bacterial growth. I did not confide to him my credentials, even when he asked me, “What are you, some kind of scientist.” I wanted to see how far he could fit his foot inside his mouth.

  37. I am a community and wound resource nurse. We deal with a lot of really severe wound care from surgeries, bed sores, diabetes, trauma, you name it! And medihoney is one of our number one products. I’ve seen in work miracles on my patients. I’ve been reading wellness mama for a little while now and I was so happy to see this post. Thanks!

  38. I’ve used honey & a couple drops of tea tree oil mixed in for deep, painful pimples. I leave it on overnight(cover with a bandaid) & the next morning it’s so much better! I have used it as a face mask for the deep cleaning & moisturizing effects, as well.

  39. Thank you so much for this great article. I use honey to wash my face and to deal with facial blemishes but I have never imagined it could be used this way. Next time I have a cut I will definitely be experimenting with this!!

  40. Dear Katie,
    I’m a fairly new subscriber to your excellent blog and I just like to say how impressed I am with the quality of the information (and the way you express it!) and the tone of your postings. I live in Australia and I’ve seen a few other sites along similar lines – yours is definitely a cut above. Thanks!

  41. Two weeks ago I burned my thumb on my toaster oven (400 degrees). I put honey on it and covered it with a bandage. The pain was gone in just a few minutes. Now it is barely noticeable. My friend was upset that I didn’t use Neosporin. I told her there was no need. I’m sure she expected me to get a serious infection!

  42. I use raw buckwheat honey in my creams because of its anti-bacterial properties. What do you think of buckwheat honey compared to manuka?

  43. I deeply appreciate your articles. I had a boil under my big toenail on the right foot. Was told to apply neomysin ointment and take antibiotics. That was 3 months ago yet my toe has not healed well. I will now apply raw honey (and I have that) and cover it with gauze overnight. For your information my skin around the nail is dark and is becoming like a blister. Thank you for this information.

  44. When honey is not available I use “NOW Foods Solutions Cocoa Butter”. It works on cuts, scrapes and weather beaten hands. 100% pure. My mother in-law had fallen and her face was
    all scraped up. Doctors wanted to use anti-bacteria cream. The coco butter worked and no marks were left.

  45. Hi Katie,
    I wanted to comment because after reading this post, I instantly went on amazon and bought some honey for our home – just in case. Every time I opened the cabnet in the bathroom for something, the box would be sitting there and I’d always think “I can’t wait to see this stuff work.”

    About a month ago, my husband fell during work and ended up with a huge gash in his arm which required stitches. I am grateful that the location of the gash was in a good enough spot where there weren’t any other side effects; phew! Anyway, I thought “here’s my chance to see what the honey could do.” After about a week of healing; and him working; the stitched spot started to look red and angry; so after some convincing we did the honey. In TWO days; not only did the infection completely disappear but the left over healing from the wound and stitches healed. AMAZING.

    My husband now refers to it as the “Magic Honey”.

  46. Hi Katie,
    Can you please summarize what the difference are between the three Medihoey products are?
    TIA
    Sara

    • I would love to know the answer to this as well. As I was reading the description on Amazon it looks like the wound dressings are clearly for the larger open wounds, but I can’t really seem to differentiate the gel vs the paste. I will definitely start using this. I’ve been wanting to find a natural alternative to Neosporin for my family. TIA!

  47. For seasonal allergies
    Kefir may help. I used to not be able to breathe.now it’s gone

    I was wondering what everyone uses for wound cream when they want the wound left open but don’t want sticky honey all over the bedding at nighttime ….?

  48. Hi Katie,
    Can you please summarize what the difference are between the three Medihoey products are?
    TIA

  49. Hi Katie,
    I have Bee Vital Manuka Honey Active 5, from Australia. It doesn’t say it is raw though. Can I use this or should I look for raw honey?
    Congratulations on the launch of your cook book too, so exciting for you!
    Light & happiness
    Emma

  50. What would you recommend for ammonia burns from cloth dipering? I have FINALLY figured out how to rid the ammonia (unfortunatly its not natural) but my little one has raised bumps from the cloth diapers….would honey help this? Desperately seeking an effective treatment. He is 7mo and we usually cd 100%. However, taking a break to heal his skin and I want to avoid chemicals. Coconut oil amd other natural mixes are not helping. Red, dry and slightly raised. Poor lo. Have also used oatmeal bath and air/sushine.
    Help Katie!

  51. oh no.. what do i do with fake, diluted honey?

  52. Hey Katie! When my twins were born prematurely, they had UVCs for their medications and TPN. They were unable to receive pumped milk for the first few days. TPN is pretty hard on veins and both girls ended up with burns from the TPN just below their navels from where the catheters leaked. They used Medihoney patches and they worked great. When our sickest baby came home, she was on a lot of support and they sent tubes of Medihoney and the patches hone with her. We’ve used it for so many things and it works great. She had a G-tube that would sometimes get red around it, and the honey would resolve it within hours. It’s amazing stuff! I wasn’t aware you could get it personally, outside a medical setting. Thank you!