Honey combination therapies for skin and wound infections: A systematic review of the literature

Pauline McLoone, Dina Tabys, Lorna Fyfe

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Topical application of medical grade honey is recommended for the clinical management of wound infections. The suitability of honey as a wound healing agent is largely due to its antibacterial activity, immune modulatory properties, and biocompatibility. Despite the usefulness of honey in wound healing, chronic wound infections continue to be a global problem requiring new and improved therapeutic interventions. Several recent studies have investigated the effects of combining honey with other therapies or agents with the aim of finding more efficacious treatments. In this systematic review, the database PubMed was used to carry out a search of the scientific literature on the combined effects of honey and other therapies on antimicrobial activity and wound and skin healing. The search revealed that synergistic or additive antimicrobial effects were observed in vitro when honey was combined with antibiotics, bacteriophages, antimicrobial peptides, natural agents, eg, ginger or propolis and other treatment approaches such as the use of chitosan hydrogel. Outcomes depended on the type of honey, the combining agent or treatment and the microbial species or strain. Improved wound healing was also observed in vivo in mice when honey was combined with laser therapy or bacteriophage therapy. More clinical studies in humans are required to fully understand the effectiveness of honey combination therapies for the treatment of skin and wound infections.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-888
Number of pages14
JournalClinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Antibiotics
  • Combination therapy
  • Honey
  • Natural agents
  • Skin infection
  • Wound infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology

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