Skin rashes are a type of reactions occurring when our body encounters pathogens (germs). Skin acts as a barrier in order to protect us from these pathogens.
In order to do this inflammation occurs which further leads to redness, itching, bumps and patches.
In clinical term, all this is known as eczema or dermatitis. There are 2 kinds of dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis which is itchy but doesn’t spread upon contact. Contact dermatitis causes bumps, blisters and swollen patches in the skin which spread upon contact.
These skin rashes or allergies are caused due to certain products called allergen. Allergen is a chemical compound causing allergy. It can be variety of things – flowers, pollens, perfumes, soaps, detergents, latex products, specific food products like nuts, eggs, prawns etc.
Taking medication and avoiding such allergic products is the conventional remedy for this. However, certain natural products can act as an alternative remedy for this. Manuka honey is one of them.
It is produced by the honey bee’s by collecting nectar from Manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) bushes. It is rich in phenolic content and flavonoid – also highly acidic in nature.
The healing property and the anti-bacterial property is primarily responsible for this. Manuka honey contains methylglyoxal which has high anti-bacterial effect.
In this section we are dealing with this effect of Manuka honey. Here we will discuss in detail the efficacy of Manuka honey as a treatment for skin rashes.
5 Ways Manuka Honey Heals Skin Rashes
Manuka honey, plays an important role in healing scars and wounds. Its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties prevent further infections by pathogens.
1.Applying Manuka honey on skin heals and reduces the rashes
Manuka honey has a healing property which cures wounds and scars. This property comes handy during skin rashes.
A clinical study has show this effect. It showed honey dressing was effective in wound healing when applied on local skin graft wounds. The use of honey to treat injuries is advocated because of its wound healing and anti-bacterial property.
Another analysis study illustrates this healing effect of Manuka honey. Though the study is on diabetic wounds it is equally applicable for topical skin damages. This study shows that even a difficult to treat diabetic wound is healed faster by honey because of anti-bacterial property.
Similar analysis study vindicated this point. It showed that the high sugar content of honey plays a role in this. It draws out all the moisture of the environment and completed dehydrates the microbes resulting in growth inhibition of microbes. Thus, it prevents infection of antibiotic resistant microbes in this way.
What does this mean?
Manuka honey cures skin rashes by healing the affected tissues. This is done by dehydrating the surrounding microbial cells and further inhibiting bacterial growth and infection.
2. Manuka honey inhibits infections of skin
Manuka honey has high anti-microbial or anti-bacterial property. It inhibits a range of bacteria including the deadly antibiotic resistant- methicillin resistant S. aureus (MRSA). This is due to the hydrogen peroxide and methylglyoxal content of honey.
A comparative study of pasture honey and Manuka honey illustrated this effect. Manuka honey due to its methylglyoxal component is more effective than pasture honey. 2-3% of Manuka honey in upto 14 fold dilution is effective against MRSA.
Another study showed the anti-bacterial effect of Manuka honey on Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This study showed even 20-100% of Manuka honey with 5 fold dilution is effective in inhibiting the growth of this bacteria.
Similar such results were found in the case of Clostridium infection. Here 50% concentration of Manuka honey seems to be of maximum effect in growth inhibition.
Another study vindicated this anti-bacterial property of honey on a range of bacteria S.aureus, Bacillus,E.coli, Salmonella typhi , Pseudomonas aeruginosa etc. the effect was more in case gram negative bacteria than the gram positive ones.
In another such laboratory study it was seen that manuka honey inhibits dermatophytic (bacteria causing skin diseases) bacteria. This treatment was applied at an interval of 24 hrs for 3-4days. Concentrations as low as 5% was effective in inhibiting the growth of bacteria such as Microsporum sp., Trichophyton sp. etc.
What does this mean?
Manuka honey acts as topical agent and cures skin rashes by inhibiting the growth of microbes including dermatophytic bacteria.
3. Manuka honey regulates immune responses to reduce allergies
Allergies occur as a result of inappropriate immune responses and hence it is beneficial to look for a therapy that regulates and ameliorates immune response.
Manuka honey has high immune-modulatory property (it modifies the components of the immune system). Thus, it stimulates the secretion of certain cytokines (protein messenger of the immune system) which makes changes in the immune system. This in turn reduces the susceptibility of skin allergies and infections.
A recent study has shown this effect which primarily operates by immune-stimulatory and anti-inflammatory effects.
This is primarily regulates by secretion a range of cytokines like TNF-alpha. This property leads to wound healing and prevention of skin related disorders.
A comparative study of Manuka honey, pasture honey and artificial honey validates this point. This study shows that Manuka honey has greater effect in stimulating the secretion of immune-modulatory cytokine TNF-α and also in reducing the activity of reactive oxygen intermediate.
The latter is due to the anti-oxidant property of Manuka honey.
Another laboratory study demonstrated this cytokine production theory by showing Manuka honey itself contain a protein component which is responsible for this TNF-α secretion. A similar study showcased that it stimulates the secretion of other cytokines like IL-6, IL-1β
What does this mean?
Manuka honey with its immune-modulatory property effectively reduces skin allergies by making some essential changes in the immune system.
4. Manuka honey is anti-inflammatory in nature
The property of preventing inflammation is an important parameter in the prognosis of different diseases including skin diseases. Manuka honey due to its anti-inflammatory nature is crucial. It is this property which aides in faster wound healing and eradication of harmful bacteria.
Manuka honey is rich in phenol. This phenol and phenolic components effects specific signalling pathways in cells which results in the release of anti-inflammatory cytokines. This further prevents infection and accelerates wound healing.
A study vindicated this effect on skin disease prevention. In this study dermatitis patients were subjected to treatment with manuka honey and betamethasone esters.
2 weeks of treatment showed that honey is more effective than betamethasone ester ointments. 8 out of 11 dermatitis patients reported improvement in their condition after 2 weeks which was measured by less itching scaling, eczema etc.
What does this mean?
Manuka honey’s anti-inflammatory acts as a potential tool for wound repairing , scar healing and improvement of dermatitis condition.
5. Honey is an effective skin care alternative
Manuka honey like all other has anti-oxidant property which reduces the oxidative stress in the cell. This property is effective in skin care treatment as it maintains healthy epithelial skin cells.
A review analysis study illustrates this effect. It shows varying concentrations of honey 1-10% found in skincare products, 70% in oils and emulsifies are effective. Their beneficial effect on skin cells is due to induced secretion of cytokines and matrix proteins. This helps in forming epithelial cells.
The high phenolic and flavonoid content of Manuka honey is responsible for this anti-oxidant property which is shown by this comparative study with tulang honey. A similar comparative study with Malaysian honey illustrates this same property.
A mouse model study illustrates the anti-oxidant and reduction of oxidative damage property of Manuka honey.
What does this mean?
Research indicates that Manuka honey treatment helps in maintaining healthy skin cells and thus act as an effective skin care alternative.
How to use manuka honey for skin rashes?
No specific dosage for any condition is given for manuka honey. A study conducted on people in the age group of 42-64 concluded that honey was safe for regular and frequent consumption and had no observable adverse effects on the normal health of the body .
1 teaspoon manuka honey daily 3 times a day in between meals is recommended for best results . The most effective way to take it is straight from the spoon, but it may also be taken in cold or lukewarm water.
Diabetic patients can also take manuka honey, but in lesser amounts and with a strict check on the blood sugar levels at all times.
Manuka honey can be applied topically to skin rashes. First conduct a patch test to rule out allergies. Apply manuka honey to the dressing and cover the affected area. Wash off with cool water after 30 minutes.
Some people may be allergic to honey. Hence a patch test 48 hours prior to consumption is recommended to avert possibly dangerous situations. This allergy is more common for people that already suffer from bee or pollen allergy.
Children below the age of 12 months should not be made to consume manuka honey, for fear of botulism poisoning due to some of the compounds present in the honey.
Store bought manuka honey always has a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) rating based on the amount of methylglyoxal present in the honey. For best results, always a rating of 10 or higher should be used.
Manuka honey’s anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial properties and skin protective properties can help in treating skin rashes.
Hence, it provides a good natural skin care option with very little side effects. However, please conduct a patch test prior to using manuka honey for the skin.