How Doctors Use Fish Skin to Treat Burns
Doctors in Brazil are using a new therapy—the skin of Tilapia fish—to reduce trauma in severe burn victims. In clinical studies involving about 50 patients, this biological dressing—which took a team of researchers more than two years to develop—relieved pain better and was easier to manage than traditional burn therapies.
The strips of fish skin are first cured, decontaminated, cooled, and preserved in a process that removes scales, tissue, toxins, and infectious agents. The skin forms a mold over the affected area and is left in place for various amounts of time—ranging from about seven to 20 days—depending on the severity of the burns. It is removed using petroleum jelly after the wounds have healed.
Tilapia is one of the most common freshwater, disease-resistant fish in South America. The skin, which is donated to this research project, contains ideal levels of collagen and humidity to promote healing and provide essential proteins. According to researchers, this treatment not only reduces pain—patients don’t have to undergo daily dressing changes—but also reduces infection risk.
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