Can You Use Manuka Honey For Treating Burns?


6 minute read

Essential Takeaways

Manuka honey can effectively treat mild, superficial, first-degree burns at home.

Manuka honey has a higher level of antibacterial properties compared to other honeys, and has been closely studied for its potential in modern medicine.

Using a high UMF™ grade is likely to give you better results than a lower grade.

Approximately every minute, someone in the United States gets a burn bad enough to require medical treatment.

Most of these burns occur at home - from consumer household appliances, cooking, eating, and serving hot drinks.

Did you just glance down at your hand?

If you’ve sustained a surface level burn yourself, you’ll be happy to know that there’s an effective at-home remedy you can soothe your burning skin with.

Curious what it is? It’s golden and very tasty…

In this guide on using manuka honey for burns:

  • Honey on burns: an age-old remedy
  • How does honey help your burn?
  • Why manuka honey is the best honey for burns
  • Which UMF™ grade is best for burns
  • Which burns you can treat at home with manuka honey
  • How to apply it
  • When to seek help
  • Get some for your first aid kit today!

Honey On Burns: An Age-Old Remedy

Using honey in medicine is far from a new idea.

In fact, honey was used by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Chinese, and Romans, as well as in Ayurvedic Indian medicine.

More recently, there’s mention of using it in medicine in records from the 1930s.

With Dr Peter Molan’s groundbreaking research in the 1980s about the special qualities of New Zealand’s manuka honey, there have been further studies into its medical potential.

“After having served an important role in the medical tradition of many peoples for millennia, honey was “rediscovered” by modern medicine as a topical agent for treating wounds and burns.”

Let’s look at why that might be.

How Does Honey Help Your Burn?

Honey naturally has antioxidant, anti-bacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.

The reason honey is helpful to burns is largely due to the following properties:

  • Anti-bacterial action. Honey draws moisture out of the environment and dehydrates the bacteria, speeding up the healing process.

  • High acidity. Honey has an average pH of 4.4 which can reduce wound colonisation and infection.

  • Osmotic effect. There’s a high sugar content in honey which prevents the growth of bacteria.

  • Antioxidant content. Honey contains both aqueous and lipophilic antioxidants which can decrease damage to the cells and also inflammation.

  • Hydrogen peroxide content. This is continuously produced by enzymes and remains below the level that causes inflammatory effects. It promotes antibacterial activity.

When you smoothe honey onto a burn (or wound), a few things happen.

First, it seals off the area of the burn to prevent foreign material from coming into contact with it. It effectively gives the burn a private and secure bubble.

Secondly, it hydrates the burn while simultaneously dehydrating the bacteria in it.

Thirdly, the activity of the honey starts to take effect.

Depending on which honey you use, this effect may be greater or smaller.

Why Manuka Honey Is The Best Honey For Burns

There are two major reasons why manuka honey is the best type of honey for burns.

Let’s look at the most important one first.

Manuka honey has superior antibacterial properties

In the 1980s, Peter Molan and his associates found that the antibacterial activity in manuka honey was different to other honey.

It was found in 1962 that the antibacterial activity in honey is due to the natural presence of antiseptic hydrogen peroxide in it.

However, Molan discovered that manuka honey samples retained their full antibacterial activity after the present hydrogen peroxide was destroyed.

“Subsequent testing…revealed that manuka honey was the only type of honey to have a significant amount of non-peroxide antibacterial activity.”

Therefore, manuka honey is unique in having non-peroxide antibacterial activity.

Why is this important?

The non-peroxide antibacterial activity is stable. It doesn’t lose its activity when it is exposed to heat and light, or over time in storage.

Manuka honey retains its activity indefinitely, where other honeys might lose their freshness and benefits by the time they reach you.

The second reason is related to the authenticity of this antibacterial activity.

Manuka honey can be certified as genuine by the UMFHA

There are over one million metric tons of honey produced every year.

Unfortunately, not all of it is genuine. There’s an entire fake honey industry out there.

When you’re buying honey to treat a burn at home, you don’t want to risk using honey that may have been modified.

You want the real deal.

What’s more, you need medical grade honey.

Anything above UMF™ 10+ is considered to be medical grade honey.

The Unique Mānuka Factor Honey Association (UMFHA) created the UMF™ grading system to ensure that manuka honey jars in circulation with a UMF™ certificate are genuine and authentic.

This protects both the consumers and beekeepers from a dark market of counterfeit products.

Read more: UMF™ Honey and the UMFHA

While some honey may be labelled as “manuka honey”, unfortunately the label alone is not enough to give you peace of mind.

“Confusingly there is now honey being sold as “Active Manuka Honey” where the seller is referring to antibacterial activity that is due to hydrogen peroxide just like in all other types of honey, and not to the non-peroxide type of antibacterial activity that is unique to manuka honey and jelly bush honey.”

When it comes to delicate science, it’s best to trust the scientists.

Buying UMF™ grade manuka honey is the only way to ensure the honey has passed rigorous testing and is held to a very high standard.

Which UMF Grade Manuka Honey Is Best For Burns?

As might be expected, the higher the UMF grade, the more potent the honey.

The UMF scale starts at UMF™ 5+ and goes all the way up to UMF™ 26+.

When applying it topically to a burn, it’s best to seek a higher UMF grade as this will give you a higher concentration of antibacterial activity and likely better results.

We recommend one of the following:

While lower grades are good for eating, using in recipes, and applying in beauty routines, the higher grades are recommended for medical treatment.

Read more: How much UMF™ is enough?

Which Burns You Can Treat At Home With Manuka Honey

You can use manuka honey to treat mild, superficial burns yourself.

Typical burns from accidents at home can often be healed without going to the doctor.

These are commonly known as first degree burns.

You can manage small and mild burns with manuka honey and should be able to see an improved condition within a few days.

For medium or serious burns that are blistering, it’s important that you do not delay getting professional medical care.

How To Apply Manuka Honey To Your Burn

Here’s how to take care of a mild burn.

  1. Clean the wound with a saline solution.
  2. Spread manuka honey onto your wound, making sure it covers the entire affected area. The amount you should use depends on the size of the burn.
  3. Cover it with a dry sterile gauze dressing.
  4. Change the dressing at least daily, for a few days.
  5. Reevaluate how it’s going.

This last step is very important as you need to monitor your healing progress.

When To Seek Help For Your Burn

If this treatment doesn’t appear to be working at home, or you think your burn is getting worse, do not delay seeking medical help.

While manuka honey has been proven helpful in studies and hospitals around the world, each case is different. The situation in which you got your burn might affect the healing process.

Your doctor or medical professional will be able to give you the best advice.

However, if you want some immediate relief when you encounter a mild, superficial burn…

It’s a good idea to have some manuka honey on hand.

Get some for your first aid kit today!

Manuka honey is not only useful for burns. It can be beneficial on cuts and scrapes too, among other things.

Shop our range here.

We only deal in real.


Suggested further reading:

Sources used in text (listed in order):

Scald statistics and data resources, Ameriburn

Topical application of honey for burn wound treatment, US National Library of Medicine

Honey research - Dr Peter Molan, Peter Molan

Up-to-date use of honey for burns treatment, US National Library of Medicine

Evidence for clinical use of honey in wound healing, US National Library of Medicine

Manuka honey wound care: Will it help you to recover?, New Zealand Honey Co.

What’s special about active manuka honey?

Honey market worldwide and in the US, Statista

Fake honey: What you need to know about counterfeit honey, New Zealand Honey Co.


176 ways to use manuka honey, New Zealand Honey Co.

Everything you need to know about manuka honey face masks, New Zealand Honey Co.

Burn stages, Stanford Health Care

Looking for manuka honey but don’t know where to start? We’ve made a buyer’s checklist. After two minutes, you’ll know what to look for when buying manuka honey.

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