Brazilian researchers found an unconventional way to treat burn victims and alleviate their pain. They discovered that applying tilapia fish skin on severe burns can reduce their pain considerably. This represents a cheap method which, although sounding repulsive, might actually be effective.
- Tilapia skin has similar properties to human tissue.
- It is cheap to produce, as the fish is abundant in Brazil.
- Using fish skin against burns significantly reduces pain and favorizes healing.
People have always used pig skin or even human tissue to treat burn victims. These options are effective, since they keep the wound moist and allow for an easier transfer of collagen, the protein which plays an important role in healing.
However, Brazilian hospitals lack both pig and human tissue, and do not benefit from the modern methods used in other countries. This is how scientists from the Federal University of Ceara discovered that the skin of tilapia fish is similar to human skin.
This tissue can offer the needed amounts of collagen, and provides the moisture and resistance to diseases found in human skin. Moreover, this fish species is abundant both in the wilderness and in the Brazilian fish farms, and its populations are constantly growing. Therefore, using tilapia skin against burns would be a feasible method.
Chinese scientists have studied the effect of tilapia skin in the healing process of mice, but researchers from Brazil started their trials directly on humans. They found that this product speeds up healing and reduces the need for painkillers.
Before testing the fish skin, they sterilized it and irradiated it, to make sure all viruses are killed. Then, it can be packed up and refrigerated, and last for two years. All this treatment removes all unpleasant smell and makes the skin ready for safe use on burnt skin.
During trials, researchers tested it on patients with second- and third-degree burns. They applied the tilapia skin directly on the wound, and then covered it with a bandage, without applying any cream. After 10 days, the bandage can be removed and the fish skin peeled away.
This method has a 75 percent lower cost than sulfadiazine cream, which is used as burn treatment in Brazil. It is both effective and safe, and spares hospitals of many costs they may use for other purposes.
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons