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What is MEDIHONEY?

Written by Chad Birt on Fri Jul 02 2021.

Humans first discovered the medicinal benefits of honey more than 5,000 years ago, but the sweetener didn’t receive FDA clearance until 2011, when New Jersey-based medical devices company, Derma Sciences, Inc., introduced their MEDIHONEY® hydrogel to the market. We answer the simple question: What is medihoney?

Since then, MEDIHONEY has become the go-to wound care product for many Americans. It comes in both prescription-strength and over-the-counter formulas and provides a safe, effective, way to manage burns, arterial ulcers, and surgical wounds. 

If you care for a loved one with underlying health problems like diabetes or venous insufficiency, MEDIHONEY can reduce the risk of infections, support the removal of necrotic tissue, and encourage the body’s natural wound healing process.

We’ve created an FAQ for those new to wound care and MEDIHONEY. This article answers the following:

What is MEDIHONEY?

MEDIHONEY is a brand name wound and burn gel made from 100% Leptospermum (Manuka) honey. Manuka honey is unique in that it has antibacterial and bacterial resistant properties, meaning it prevents bacteria from building a tolerance to its beneficial effects. 

MEDIHONEY looks similar in appearance and texture to traditional store-bought honey, but it’s not a sweetener. Instead, it provides an all-natural way to treat open wounds, preventing gangrene and infection. Often, wounds that have progressed carry a malodorous smell. MEDIHONEY has also been shown to decrease odors that may accompany wounds.

MEDIHONEY is great at pulling moisture from wounds and “dehydrates” bacteria. Basically, this means it decreases bacterial growth within the wound. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect that helps speed the healing time of existing wounds and reduces pain. 

What’s the difference between MEDIHONEY and regular honey?

MEDIHONEY is different from regular honey in several ways. For one, it’s only produced by bees that pollinate the Manuka flower, a species of tea tree native to New Zealand.

 Second, Manuka honey contains a much higher concentration of methylglyoxal (MGO) than regular honey. MGO is an organic compound known for its antibacterial and antiviral properties. 

Each MEDIHONEY product has a unique Manuka factor (UMF) rating. The higher the UMF rating, the higher the level of MGO and other healing compounds. UMF ratings range from 0-16+. Any rating of 16 or higher indicates a superior solution.

What is MEDIHONEY used for?

MEDIHONEY comes in a variety of formulations, including gels, wound pastes, calcium alginate dressings, and calcium alginate dressing ropes. Let’s take a closer look at each product’s treatment indications:

MEDIHONEY Wound and Burn Dressing Gel

MEDIHONEY wound and burn dressing gel contains a formula of 80% Active Leptospermum Honey (Manuka honey) and 20% natural gelling agents. It’s recommended for the treatment of non-draining to moderately draining wounds, including:

  • Diabetic ulcers

  • Venous stasis ulcers

  • Arterial ulcers

  • Leg ulcers

  • Pressure ulcers

  • Burns

  • Donor sites

  • Traumatic wounds

  • Surgical wounds

 MEDIHONEY Wound Paste

MEDIHONEY wound paste contains a formula of 100% Active Leptospermum Honey (Manuka honey). It’s recommended for hard-to-dress wounds, including:

  • Tunneled wounds

  • Undermined wounds

  • Wounds affecting the sinus tract

  • Surgical wounds

  • Pressure ulcers

MEDIHONEY Calcium Alginate Dressing

MEDIHONEY calcium alginate dressings look similar to bandages. They’re 4” x 5” and contain Active Leptospermum Honey (Manuka honey). When wound drainage comes in contact with the calcium alginate dressing, it releases Manuka honey, forming a gel. The gel cleanses and debrides the wound, creating an optimal healing environment. 

Calcium alginate dressings are recommended for:

MEDIHONEY Calcium Alginate Dressing Rope

MEDIHONEY calcium alginate dressing rope is three-fourths of an inch in diameter. These strips are ideal for application on partial to full thickness wounds that are relatively small in size, including:

  • Pressure ulcers

  • Surgical incisions

  • Tunneling wounds

  • Sinus tracts

  • Donor tissue sites 

Do you need a prescription for MEDIHONEY?

In the United States, you don’t need a prescription for MEDIHONEY. All MEDIHONEY products are FDA cleared for over the counter (OTC) sales and can be purchased at most major retailers, including grocery stores, big box stores, and right here on Carewell.com.

How do I use MEDIHONEY?

Before applying a MEDIHONEY product to your loved one’s wound, carefully read the instructions on the packaging. Once you do, follow these simple steps:

  • Thoroughly clean the wound with a saline solution. (Here’s a recipe from IntermountainHealthcare). Then, if necessary, apply a barrier cream around the edges of the wound. Barrier cream prevents skin breakdown and infection.

  • Apply the MEDIHONEY gel or paste directly to the wound. If you’re using a calcium alginate dressing, use sterile scissors to resize it, and then gently apply the dressing to the wound bed.

  • Cover the MEDIHONEY gel, paste, or alginate dressing with an absorbent sterile, secondary bandage or a compression garment. 

  • When it’s time to change the dressing, thoroughly clean the wound with a saline solution. Once you do, repeat the same steps.

This video by YouTuber Alyssa McTavish demonstrates the entire process:

Keep in mind that it’s best that MEDIHONEY be on the skin for 12-24 hours at a time for maximum effectiveness. If you or your loved one is having a hard time keeping the dressing intact, soak a gauze dressing in the MEDIHONEY (or use the MEDIHONEY square dressing) and apply it directly on the wound, then top with an abdominal pad dressing.

When using MEDIHONEY will I need any extra supplies?

To properly apply MEDIHONEY, you’ll need:

  • Your desired MEDIHONEY product

  • A saline cleaning solution

  • Sterile scissors

  • Absorbent secondary bandages, a gauze pad, or a compression garment

MEDIHONEY calcium alginate dressings can be safely worn for up to seven days. Change the dressing as soon as the secondary bandage reaches its absorbent capacity, or as prescribed by your loved one’s primary care physician.

We hope you’ve found our guide to MEDIHONEY helpful. If you have any questions, please reach out to our friendly, supportive Care Team at your earliest convenience. Call (855) 855-1666 or send an email to support@carewell.com.

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Chad Birt

Chad Birt is a freelance B2B and B2C medical writer who resides in Astoria, Oregon. When he isn't behind a keyboard, you can find him hiking, camping, or birdwatching with his wife Ella and their two dogs, Diane and Thoreau.