[a medicinal cooking blog: using food as medicine to treat whatever may ail you]

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Burn Salve : Egg Whites

Hot off the press (though it's been around the block and back for some time) : egg whites are an excellent salve for burns. The high collagen content helps in healing and soothing the burn as well as restoring the skin to it's natural condition. You want to keep applying layers of egg white as they dry and form a white film over the burn area. If you have a third degree burn this absolutely does not apply, but in the case of a moderate sunburn (for example) that is still in the first degree category this might just be the remedy you were looking for. Do not apply when there are blisters on the skin, this is best used after the acute stages. If the burn is either larger than your palm or has penetrated past the dermis layer of skin, consult a doctor immediately. Part of the reason egg whites are so healing is that it is basically the placenta of the developing chicken and placenta has always had a long history as a healing medicinal, in both TCM and Native American medicine. Some other home remedies that have been recommended for burns are : aloe vera, honey, and vinegar.


Unknown said...

Great article and explanation. I really like the concept but am wondering if their is any need for concern regarding bacteria such as salmonella (often found in eggs) entering through an open wound?

The Spice Doc said...

I would not use this on an open or blistered wound, as indicated in the post.

Anonymous said...

The first approach, in most burns cases, is to apply cool water to slow the burning process.

The Spice Doc said...

Actually, you should not apply cool water to all burns, the more severe especially. The egg white salve is meant for burns after the acute stage and not for anything where the skin has blistered or broken.

Anonymous said...

I had a steam burn on both hands....I ran cold water on them for 5 minutes, then covered with separated egg whites....instantly, the pain was gone...the burns didn't even blister...in one place the skin was broken open, because it had touched the hot pan I was carrying, and it healed up quickly with no probs....the eggwhite thing works folks, amd works VERY well....Grampa

Anonymous said...

If you do even a little looking you will find plenty of sites warning against this hoax.

I normally do a Search Engine search for a couple of appropriate words & the word Hoax to see what the experts say.

Here is one site


*********** QUOTED ***********
During research for this article, I contacted Dr Leila Cuttle, PHD, a research scientist with the Centre for Children's Burns and Trauma Research at the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Dr Cuttle replied to my query with the following information:

The first aid treatment of burns is an area plagued with myths and home-remedies! I guess a lot of these remedies have persisted simply because applying anything to a burn (which covers it and prevents it being exposed to the air) will make it less painful, and so people believe it is effective. But we have proven that cold [cool water from tap, not chilled], running water applied for 20 minutes duration will significantly improve wound healing and reduce scarring and so that is the ONLY thing that people should be using as first aid.

There are a couple of things completely wrong about the email above:

- Training firemen are NOT taught to treat burns with egg whites.
- A burn will NOT regenerate if you apply egg whites.

Firemen and Paramedics are trained to use cold, running water for 20 minutes and then cover the burn with a clean cloth or clingwrap/foodwrap

There is currently no treatment which will regenerate skin perfectly. If a burn is deep or full thickness it will always scar, there is nothing we can do about that…yet. But 20 minutes of cold running water will significantly improve the speed of healing and reduce scarring. Other treatments such as ice (and egg whites) do not improve healing and should not be used.

We have developed resources to let people know what they should be doing and I have attached a poster and brochure to this email which we are circulating widely. We have also developed a website with more information: www.coolburns.com.au

Thank you again for helping me to dispel some of the myths associated with treating burn injuries!

Dr Cuttle's advice is reiterated by other health and medical authorities around the world. In its article about burn first aid, the world renowned Mayo Clinic notes:

Don't apply egg whites, butter or ointments to the burn. This could cause infection.

America's National Institutes of Health MedlinePlus website notes:

Do NOT apply ointment, butter, ice, medications, cream, oil spray, or any household remedy to a severe burn.

And in a DenverChannel.com article discussing this and other spurious food related burn treatments, Dr. McCallister explains that "is not a good idea to put any food on your burn" - including egg whites - because it can increase the risk of infection.

Furthermore, an extensive study of first-aid home treatments - which included the use of raw eggs and a range of other substances - given to 147 patients in Nigeria found a "significantly higher incidence of wound infection among burn patients who before presentation applied various substances to their wounds than among those who applied nothing".

In fact, no credible health resource recommends applying egg white as a treatment for burns. As noted by Dr Cuttle, the recommended and most effective first aid treatment for burns is to apply cool running water for 20 minutes. DO NOT apply any other substance.