Spurious First Aid Advice Message - Eggs For Treatment of Burns
OutlineCirculating message claims that egg white is a "healing miracle" for burns and should be applied to burns as an immediate first aid measure. The message also claims that firemen in training are taught to treat burns with egg whites and that applying egg white can regenerate burnt skin.
© Depositphotos.com/ natika
Brief AnalysisThe claims in the message are untrue. Egg white is not recommended as a burn treatment by medical experts and its use may increase the chance of infection. Firefighters are not taught to use egg white as a burn treatment. Egg white does not regenerate burnt skin. The recommended first-aid treatment for burns is to apply cool running water for at least 20 minutes. (Please review the detailed analysis below for more information).
Good & Handy to know if you have not been informed of this very useful First Aid.
Worth Knowing BURNS
A young man sprinkling his lawn and bushes with pesticides wanted to check the contents of the barrel to see how much pesticide remained in it. He raised the cover and lit his lighter; the vapors ignited and engulfed him. He jumped from his truck, screaming. His neighbour came out of her house with a dozen eggs and a bowl yelling: "bring me some more eggs!" She broke them, separating the whites from the yolks.
The neighbor woman helped her to apply the whites onto the young man's face. When the ambulance arrived and the EMTs saw the young man, they asked who had done this. Everyone pointed to the lady in charge.
They congratulated her and said: "You have saved his face." By the end of the summer, the young man brought the lady a bouquet of roses to thank her. His face was like a baby's skin.
A Healing Miracle for Burns:
Keep in mind this treatment of burns is being included in teaching beginner fireman. First Aid consists of first spraying cold water on the affected area until the heat is reduced which stops the continued burning of all layers of the skin. Then, spread the egg whites onto the affected area.
One woman burned a large part of her hand with boiling water. In spite of the pain, she ran cold faucet water on her hand, separated 2 egg whites from the yolks, beat them slightly and dipped her hand in the solution. The whites then dried and formed a protective layer.
She later learned that the egg white is a natural collagen and continued during at least one hour to apply layer upon layer of beaten egg white. By afternoon she no longer felt any pain and the next day there was hardly a trace of the burn. 10 days later, no trace was left at all and her skin had regained its normal color. The burned area was totally regenerated thanks to the collagen in the egg whites, a placenta full of vitamins.
Since this information could be helpful to everyone: Won't you please pass it on?
According to this widely circulated advice message, eggs are a "healing miracle" for burns and egg white should be applied as a first aid treatment whenever a burn injury occurs. The message outlines two (unsubstantiated and unreferenced) burn injury cases in which eggs were used as immediate treatment with supposedly miraculous results. The message claims that firemen in training are taught to use egg white as a treatment for burns. It further claims that applying egg white can actually regenerate burnt skin thereby eliminating scarring.
However, the claims in the message are highly misleading and inaccurate. The use of egg white is not recommended by medical experts as an effective treatment for burns and could actually be detrimental to the victim. Moreover, no competent educator is likely to teach training fire fighters to use egg white as a treatment and it is not an official component of their training as implied in the message. And, egg white will not miraculously regenerate burnt skin as claimed in the message.
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.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:
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!
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.
Spreading this false health information may cause people to use a burn first aid treatment that is not only ineffective, but may actually make the outcome of the treated burn injury even worse. If you receive this misleading message, please do not pass it on to others. And please let the sender know the claims in the message are inaccurate.
© Depositphotos.com/ natika
Last updated: 17th May 2012
First published: 17th May 2012
By Brett M. Christensen
Dr Leila Cuttle
Centre for Children's Burns and Trauma Research
Poster: Burn First Aid
Brochure: Burn First Aid
Mayo Clinic - Burns: First Aid
Medline Plus - Burns
Eggs, Butter, Flour Not A Recipe For Burns
BURNS AND SCALDS: FIRST-AID HOME TREATMENT AND IMPLICATIONS AT ENUGU, NIGERIA