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Maggots can effectively clean hard-to-heal wounds

Maggots and maggot therapy are being touted as an effective method of cleaning and possibly disinfecting large, hard-to-heal wounds. A study carried ou...

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|Dec 21|magazine8 min read

Maggots and maggot therapy are being touted as an effective method of cleaning and possibly disinfecting large, hard-to-heal wounds.

A study carried out in France has found that maggots – which each dead skin and flesh – are able to clean wounds faster than doctors can.

However, the study found maggot therapy was only more effective at cleaning wounds than doctors are for one week.

Despite this, there are hopes that maggot therapy could be used when patients need rapid wound control, for example, diabetes patients with ulcers and sores.

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The study tested their effectiveness as wound cleaners on over 100 men, all of whom had abrasions or lacerations on their lower limbs.

Half of the participants received maggot therapy treatment, which consisted of a bag of sterile maggots being placed over the wounds twice a week.

The other half received treatment from a doctor which saw them cut out dead skin from the wound with a scalpel.

After one week of treatment, the men undergoing MDT (maggot debridement therapy) had less dead skin and tissue in the wound than those being treated by a doctor.

However, after two weeks worth of treatment both sets of men had the same levels of dead tissue present in their wounds.

The researchers therefore concluded that MDT should only be carried for a period of no more than one week, in order for the patient to experience the treatment’s full benefits.

Although not involved in the most recent research into maggot therapy, Nicky Cullum, a professor of nursing at Manchester University has investigated the possible treatment herself.

She said although maggots are able to clean wounds faster than more well-known methods, it did not mean that they offered any advantage as far as the wound’s healing progress was concerned.

 She told Reuters Health: “If clinicians and patients are primarily aiming to get wounds healed, maggots seem to offer no benefit and therefore are not a good option.

“Exactly as our previous study (did), it shows that maggots clean wounds more quickly than conventional treatment but with no benefit on healing.”

Maggots were approved for medical use in 2004 in the United States by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), thanks to their reported medicinal properties.

The results of the latest study have been published in the Archives of Dermatology.

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