For years there has been a rumor spreading around the internet that egg white is used by firemen to treat burns. No one seems to know the origin of this claim, which is supported by some health experts, but dismissed by others. So to that end, let’s take a look at the facts to try to determine if egg whites should be used to treat burns.
What Was The Rumor?
The origin of the rumor is a mystery, though the use of egg white as a cure for burns goes back centuries. Various doctors in the 18th and 19th centuries are documented as making this claim, stating that the protein in the egg white not only seals the wound, preventing infection, but also provides vital nutrients for new skin cells to grow and replace the dead ones. One spin on this rumor claimed that after being burned, a woman cleaned the wound using water before applying egg white which hardened to form a film over the burn. To her amazement, the next day at lunch she was amazed to see that the wound had completely vanished and there was nearly not a sign of it left. She was stunned that egg white could heal her wound so fast and so well, leaving no scaring or mark whatsoever.
Can Egg White Heal Burns?
It is true that egg white is full of protein and does harden to form a film over any applied area. This fact is why it is used in the beauty industry as health masks; however, when treating burns you should not apply egg white to the wound.
The first reason why you should not use egg white to ‘cure’ burns is the risk of infection from bacteria. Neither the water you wash the wound with, or the egg white from a raw egg is in fact, sterile. All things that come into contact with open wounds should be sterile, that is why your doctor both cleans his hands then puts on surgical gloves before touching open wounds. Therefore by applying unsterile substances to wounds you risk infection.
Ok, So Can I Use Pasteurized Egg White On Burns?
Well, strictly the answer to that question is yes, but only when there are no other more suitable treatments like bandages available. Medical experts strongly advise you to follow their guidelines for treating burns. Depending on the type of burn, 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree, you should administer the correct treatment. For 1st and 2nd degree burns, treat with water to prevent the burn damage from continuing, before waiting until the wound is dry to apply the bandage. For severe burns such as 3rd degree burns, the medical advice is not to try to treat the victim yourself, as applying cold water for example, will cause a pain level that could cause the victim to enter shock.
It is strongly recommended that you don’t treat wounds with egg white. Should you need to because you somehow have egg white but no bandages, then only use pasteurized egg white as this does not contain bacteria. So, to the rumor, well though egg white is good for the skin and therefore does possibly help with burns it certainly isn’t some miracle cure to burns.