The month of May is the official ‘burn awareness’ month in SA, and as a manufacturer of wound treatment products, Melcura™ is acutely aware of the importance of burn awareness and education when it comes to the prevention and correct treatment of burn injuries. As a South African company, Melcura™ knows that many burn injuries occur in disadvantaged or rural areas and the company’s goal is to provide an alternative to the expensive imported wound care products. In addition, the company focuses on year-round burn awareness and treatment education.
Danielle de Villiers (Project Manager at Melcura™), after completing her Master of Science (MSc), focused on Medical Immunology and entered the incredible industry of medical devices. Danielle says “One of my first experiences was research and development of an innovative synthetic resorbable skin substitute. I was, in essence, developing artificial skin that had the properties of natural human skin. Seeing it applied to living, breathing burns patients and the incredible results achieved after the lengthy process of product design, development, and finally clinical testing – I was hooked! It was so rewarding to watch children covered in this skin substitute, racing against each other down the corridors of Leratong Paediatric Burns Unit on push bikes with no pain! I’ve now worked on the full design, development, and post-market spectrum of wound care devices from high-tech electrospun wound dressings to the sweet workings of honey in wound care.”
Danielle further states that while it is rewarding to work on the development and recovery side, she quickly became aware of how much still needs to be done to raise burn awareness and prevent burns in the first place. “Our reality in SA is that many people are either living without electricity, or only have sporadic access to electricity. This means that gas or open fires are used by millions daily. These same people do not have easy access to medical care, so the most important first step is to educate people on prevention, and also treatment in the event of burn wounds.”
Someone who has plenty of experience with wound care is Sister Renè Lessing, a Registered Nurse who believes that her love for people and her passion for healing created a personal journey that she would not change for anything in the world. Among many other things, Sister Lessing created one of the first basic wound care courses in the industry called ‘Back to Basics in Wound Care’.
“As a caregiver it is heartbreaking to see patients with infected burn wounds that could have healed quite easily if the correct procedures were taken immediately,” says Lessing. “With such a large portion of our population at risk of burn wounds each day, and who don’t have access to medical treatment, I also believe our first priority is to educate people on what should be done in the event of a burn, how
to treat basic wounds, and when to seek medical help.”
Sister Lessing’s Advice
Most of us think of wounds happening because of a burn, or a nasty fall. But even a small wound, like a dog bite that does not look serious at first, can end up disastrous if not treated correctly. What you can see on the skin, is usually not the actual case under the skin. The skin is the largest organ in our body and protects us from germs (bacteria, fungi and viruses) that live on its surface. So when the skin is broken, there is a risk of germs getting into the body and causing an infection. The deeper or larger or dirtier a wound is, the more care it needs.
In South Africa during winter, we see our largest volume of patients due to burn injuries. There are many reasons for this such as:
• Diabetic persons with loss of feeling in feet who burn with hot water bottles and heaters or hot bath water which often results in burn wounds on the feet.
• Small children pulling kettle cords or hot cups from the countertop.
• Informal settlement fires due to lack of electricity.
• Other causes of burns are from chemicals in factories as well as hot oil or steam from restaurants.
What you must NEVER do:
There are so many myths about how to treat burns, but the truth is that many of these can cause further damage.
Never apply ice, butter, toothpaste, ice water or egg white. These can introduce even more bacteria, or even increase the damage already done.
What you SHOULD do:
• Rinse the wound with running cool tap water (or cool clean water from a container) for at least 20 minutes. This will cool down the wound and assist with the pain.
• Thereafter lightly cover the wound with either an emergency-type dressing or a Petroleum Jelly gauze dressing.
• The important rule is to keep it clean and minimise pain. Remember that any burn patient needs medical help, and it is advised to seek professional medical assistance as soon as possible.
Additional treatment tips:
• Medical-grade Honey is the best treatment for most wounds. Melcura™’s Honey range can be used on any wound with complete safety. Honey is well known for its healing properties, especially on burn wounds. Always keep a tube of Melcura™ HoneyGel (gel) or HoneyPlus (ointment) in your first aid kit.
• A blister – gently clean the blister without breaking the skin and cover with a thin layer of Melcura™ HoneyGel. Place a gentle dressing over it as a cover. Dress it every second day.
• A red angry and warm wound – this might indicate that the wound is inflamed, or infected. The quick and easy solution is to clean the wound with a wound cleanser such as saline, and place a thin layer of Melcura™ HoneyPlus on the wound and cover it with gauze and a light bandage.
• A bite wound – immediately clean the wound with saline and gauze and then cover the wound with Melcura™ HoneyPlus and gauze. Ensure that the patient gets to a doctor or clinic as soon as possible for a Tetanus treatment.
In summary, there are many types of wounds, and there are lots of misconceptions out there. Always ensure that you are prepared to treat an emergency that might happen in and around your house.
Burn Awareness in SA
As mentioned, there is a critical need for increased education around burn awareness, prevention and treatment in SA. Those who work with patients will tell you that many burn wounds could either have been prevented or cured much sooner with proper treatment and increased burn awareness. It is up to us to educate and assist wherever we can.
For this reason, Melcura™ supports organisations such as Heroburn, who not only educate, but also support burn victims and their families in any way possible.
Dr Nel, a widely-respected plastic surgeon at Netcare Milpark Hospital, specialising in burn trauma agrees that “a major burns injury is one of the most devastating insults a human being can experience. Its impact can not only cause multi-organ failure, but may also cause personality change and major emotional and psychosocial problems. Education and prevention cannot be underestimated in the fight against burns. The best way to combat a prolonged healing process, bad scarring and poor functional outcome, is to manage correctly the burn in the early stages of management. This is also greatly dependent on education.”
It goes without saying that all those involved in treating burn victims fully support Burn Awareness Month, but it is even more important to ensure that this momentum of burn awareness is carried throughout the year so that we can all start to make a difference and reduce the number and severity of burns that occur every day.
Who We Are
Medika SA, creator of the brand Melcura™ known for the honey-based range, Melcura Honey, is part of The Southern Medical Group, a global leader in medical implants and devices. Being part of this group gives us extensive access to some of the best medical device expertise. We are a proudly South African company that started in 2002; and were designed to establish a tissue engineering capability in South Africa. We wanted to provide an alternative to the expensive imported wound care products available at the time.
It was a chance to give smaller clinics and communities who lacked the high-end products access to advanced wound care that empowered them and helped them heal. Our goal since then has been to provide quality products at affordable prices to all our customers in the wound care industry in South Africa.
Our brand name when broken up is Mel (Latin for ‘honey’) and curae (Latin for ‘take care’). We take care of your wounds with honey.
The intended purpose of our Melcura™ Honey range is to create an optimal and moist wound healing environment. The wound healing process is facilitated by the properties of the honey and the wound bed preparation (debridement).
Our production team follows international manufacturing principles, and our devices are manufactured under an ISO 13485 quality management system which means as an organisation we need to demonstrate the ability to provide products that consistently meet customer needs and strict safety and regulatory requirements.
The Magic of Fynbos Honey
We have a unique resource in South Africa, namely our multifloral fynbos honey, from the Cape biome. South Africa possesses a significant floral biodiversity with many unique, indigenous plants. There are over 30 000 plant species in SA, of which the Cape boasts one of the most diverse temperate flora on earth, including over 3000 plant species that are used therapeutically.
The Fynbos honey used in our products has superior wound healing properties and published data demonstrates that Multifloral honeys have higher ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) values, a measure of antioxidant capacity, than mono-floral honey. Fynbos honey also has higher MGO (Methylglyoxal) levels, an antibacterial component of honey, than other honey.
Bees are a keystone species, and the sustainability of our honey is of utmost importance. Our beekeepers are part of The South African Bee Industry Organisation (SABIO) and register annually through the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries ensuring their bee colonies are protected
and kept disease free. The beehives have been established since the 1960s and are moved to different flowering areas as needed. The strict regulations that we follow to ensure our honey is medical grade also means that we must make sure our honey is sustainably sourced and that it is 100% pure honey.
Difference between Medical-grade and Store-bought Honey
When it comes to wound care you can’t just use off the shelf, edible honey. Up to 26% of raw (unprocessed) honey contains Clostridium botulinum spores, which results in botulism – a potentially fatal illness.
Medical-grade honey is treated with gamma-radiation which sterilises the honey but keeps the healing enzymes. This is to make sure no bacterial spores are introduced into the wound which can cause infection in an already compromised wound.
The strict regulations we follow to ensure our honey is medical grade also means that we must ensure our honey is sustainably sourced and that it is 100% pure honey. Many store-bought honeys are not 100% honey and may contain added sugar or syrup. Our medical grade honey is pure.
Our Melcura™ Honey Products:
HoneyGel – Melcura™ HoneyGel contains 40% Honey and the antioxidant vitamins C and E. Melcura™ HoneyGel is applicable for all types of wounds from new accidental wounds, non-healing chronic wounds, wounds colonised with bacteria and shallow and/or deep wounds.
The gel formulation is gentle and ideal for younger and sensitive patients. It is cost-effective due to the small amount that is needed for each application and because it is locally made.
HoneyPlus – Melcura™ HoneyPlus contains more honey than Melcura™ HoneyGel (48% in total) and is oil based, containing Lanolin, cod liver oil, sunflower oil, Calendula oil, Zinc oxide and aloe vera, which all individually promote wound healing as well.
It is also applicable for all types of wounds and due to the higher honey content, it has a high sugar gradient and greater cleansing/debriding potential than the Gel and is therefore used to treat wounds that need more debriding. Patients experience significantly improved healing time because of the excellent debriding action.
HoneyBalm – Our HoneyBalm is a skin-protecting ointment that contains honey, avocado oil and beeswax. The honey has wound-healing properties, the avocado oil is moisturising and is quickly absorbed into the skin, while the beeswax forms a protective barrier layer. The formulation is alcohol-free, fragrance-free and preservative-free.
It is indicated for a wide variety of skin irritations and injuries like scrapes and scratches. It helps moisturise severely dry skin and can be applied to injured skin, peri-wound areas, pressure areas, and skin folds.
HoneyMesh – Melcura™HoneyMesh is a mesh dressing coated with a honey-based hydrogel. Melcura™ HoneyMesh contains 30% honey and is gentle, yet effective on wounds that require a dressing. The mesh structure allows wound fluid or exudate to pass through the dressing. The mesh is function-specific for exudating wounds.
The honey-based hydrogel provides absorption and retention of exudate with an absorption capacity of more than 300%. The Melcura™ HoneyMesh maintains a moist environment, ideal for healing.
HoneyMesh with Film – Melcura™ HoneyMesh with Film also contains 30% honey and is also function specific for exuding wounds. The dressing can absorb low to moderate levels of exudate. The adhesive film provides a protective barrier and allows the dressing to be fixed securely in difficult locations where regular dressings do not adhere or where mobility is key. It is suited for wounds that need to have the exudates locked away and absorbed, preventing maceration and odour. The Film is useful where patients need to shower or bathe with the dressing in place.