What in the World is Wet-Wound Healing?

At EnBiologics, we talk an awful lot about “wet-wound healing”. In fact, it’s one of the first things we mention any time we talk about our flagship product, HoneyCure. Now, as a clever consumer, the type of person to keep an eye out for UMF+ labels and to educate themselves on Manuka honey, you’re probably looking for a little more information than a buzzword on a product label. So, you might be asking yourself, “What the heck is ‘wet-wound healing’, and why are they making such a fuss about it?”

At its most basic, “wet-wound healing” literally refers to a wound that is kept moist to encourage the healing process. Usually, some kind of ointment or liniment is applied to the wound, creating a wet protective layer that keeps the affected area moist, preventing inflammation and quickening the wound’s healing. If you’ve ever peeled a band-aid off a scraped elbow that hasn’t quite finished healing, then you’ve probably noticed two things. First of all, the wound itself is actually a little wet. Secondly, assuming that it’s been bandaged the whole time, there’s a pretty good chance that no scab has formed over the scrape.


Of course, you’ve probably had similar scrapes or scratches and didn’t bother with a bandage. In this case, a dry wound left to open air, your body will begin to form a scab at the surface of the wound. The scab serves the same purpose as the bandage, it keeps any nasty stuff from getting into the wound and infecting it, but the dried-out wound site will heal much more slowly than wound treated with wet-wound care. You’ve no doubt noticed that a skinned elbow heals a lot more quickly when it’s bandaged up opposed to a skinned elbow left to dry out.

There’s a whole bunch of very in-depth science that describes how a body heals a surface wound, but the crux of wet-wound healing vs dry healing can be boiled down to the fact that cells just don’t function as well when they’re left out to dry (this is also why, although peroxide’s great for killing infectants, it also has a nasty habit of killing a lot of the cells at a wound site). Cells like a moist environment. An aqueous, aerated environment encourages cell growth, division, and migration, resulting in faster formation of tissue and, in the case of a wound, faster healing with minimal scarring.

An example of healing in a dry wound (Top) and a moist wound (Bottom).

An example of healing in a dry wound (Top) and a moist wound (Bottom).

Without a moist environment (such as one provided by, say, HoneyCure) the body naturally forms a scab over the open wound to prevent any kind of infection. The scab does do an excellent job of keeping any nasty infectants from getting into the wound, but it also slows down the healing of the tissue.

To summarize, we talk a lot about “wet-wound healing” here at EnBiologics, simply because it’s the best way for a wound to heal. A wound treated properly with wet-wound care is going to heal much more quickly, scarring will be kept to a minimum, if not prevented altogether, and inflammation will be nonexistent. Wet-wound care products provide the perfect environment for your body (or your horse’s body, or your pet’s body) to repair tissue. Given that we’re in the business of providing the best wound care, it’s only natural that we talk about wet-wound healing so much.

Manuka Magic

It’s no secret that one of the most important parts of HoneyCure is, well, the honey!  At EnBiologics, we exclusively use high-grade Manuka honey for our products, but when we’re out at events a lot of people ask, what makes the honey we use so special? The magic is in the Manuka.

So, first things first, let’s make it clear where this stuff comes from. Manuka honey is honey derived from European bees foraging on the Manuka bush (or the leptospermum scoparium), found in New Zealand and Australia. Once the bees harvest the pollen, the honey is measured for what’s referred to as its “Unique Manuka Factor”, or UMF, and graded on a scale to signify the honey’s quality. Honey with UMF of 16 or greater is considered high-quality, and appropriate for the medicinal purposes that Manuka honey is so valued for. Naturally, we only use honey with a UMF of 16+ for HoneyCure.

leptospermum scoparium , or the Manuka bush

leptospermum scoparium, or the Manuka bush

Now, what makes Manuka honey so special is its unique antimicrobial properties. All honeys are at least slightly antimicrobial because they contain peroxidase. This peroxidase mediates the creation of peroxide and the peroxide does its work against the bacteria. Unfortunately,  because most of these honeys work by dehydrating the bacteria, they struggle to maintain their antibacterial activity in a moist environment like a fresh wound. Medical grade honeys however, maintain their antibacterial qualities even in low concentrations, allowing them to function even in an inhospitable environment full of diluting factors, like the bodily fluids present in a wound.

Manuka honey is different because Manuka honey doesn’t produce very much peroxide. In fact, Manuka honey produces a completely unique compound, called methylglyoxal (usually shortened to MGO). Whereas peroxide works by dehydrating the bacteria (and all the cells in the region), MGO affects microbes on a structural level, preventing the microbial cells from dividing and basically stopping any potential infection in its tracks. When bacteria invades an area, it reproduces and creates what’s called a biofilm. The spread of this biofilm is a common source of bacterial infections. The bacteria create the biofilm to give themselves a stable environment in which to continue to grow and divide, making it more and more difficult for the immune system to fight against the spreading infection. The MGO in Manuka honey acts against these biofilms, breaking them down and making the bacteria vulnerable to the other antibacterial properties of the honey.

The really impressive aspect of the Manuka is that the MGO does this without dehydrating the area. This, combined with the osmotic environment created by the honey, makes for a perfect environment for a wound to heal.

As though that unique synergy between the MGO and the honey wasn’t enough reason to treat Manuka honey as a medicinal, methylglyoxal has also been shown to be effective against antibiotic-resistant bacteria. It’s a natural antimicrobial agent that’s been proven to stop infection in its tracks, even where some antibiotics would fail.

HoneyCure was formulated to harness the power of that Unique Manuka Factor in Manuka honey and blended with essential oils to make a topical wound treatment. Our formula doubles down on the ideal healing environment created by the honey and lets the MGO do its work. It’s the MGO that keeps infection at bay, but without the moist, osmotic environment created by the honey, Manuka honey wouldn’t be nearly as effective in promoting, faster, healthier healing.

Manuka honey is a naturally-occurring perfect storm in antimicrobial treatment. The action of the MGO and the healing habitat created by the honey create a one-two punch that knocks out infection and helps wounds heal up faster, healthier, and with minimal scarring.