For centuries doctors in have been using animal skin for burn treatment. However, when you reside in country where there is a shortage of pig skin, human skin, and artificial alternatives, it comes as now surprise that doctors located in Ortaleza, Brazil have begun testing a new method for treating victims with second and third degree burns. They are now using the skin from a species of fish known as, Tilapia.
Due to the shortage of skin banks, burn specialist and plastic surgeon, Dr. Edmar Maciel, has begun leading the clinical trials using sterilized tilapia. Patients are normally providing silver sulfadiazine cream and giving and gauze band aid. The burn cream is effective in the sense that it stops the burn from getting infected, but it is ineffective in terms of assisting the burn with healing.
Cream + Gauze vs Tilapia
The dressing consisting gauze-and-cream dressing must be changed daily and can result in a fair amount of pain while changing.
Tilapia skin is application is simple. The fish in skin is applied and stays on.
How can this be so? Well, first let’s investigate why tilapia was chosen for the clinical trials:
- Tilapia is in abundance in Brazil
- Collagen protein types 1 and 3 are abundant in tilapia skin (this type of protein is good for scarring)
- The resistance and tension in tilapia skin is much greater than in that of human skin.
- A significant amount of moisture
- Tilapia skin can remain on the victims with superficial burns until the scars naturally heal
- Tilapia skin can be changed less frequently than cream + gauze for victims with deep second degree burns.
- Tilapia can reduce healing time and the use of medication by several days.
The tilapia skin trials will continue and if the treatments continue to demonstrate success, doctors are hopeful this treatment will be introduced to the public health system.