In addition to its antimicrobial qualities, honey offers other pluses for patients. Research suggests that honey dressing may be less painful to use and cause less scarring. Certain potent types even seem to be effective against MRSA, a particularly irksome type of staph infection that's resistant to antibiotics. Plus, honey bandages are cheaper than many of the other options and easy for patients to apply, says Steven Kavros, a podiatrist and wound specialist at the Mayo Clinic.
Still, promising as Manuka honey may be, some caution is in order. Despite the recent resurgence of interest, some experts warn that much of the research supporting honey is still anecdotal; some of the studies that suggested it's effective were so small that they aren't statistically reliable. A Cochrane Review article published this week concludes that more rigorous research is needed to determine whether honey offers any benefit. One recent study found that Manuka honey dressings healed leg ulcers no more quickly than conventional dressings. Certain people find honey stings when it's applied, and there's a small risk that honey-infused bandages can spark an allergic reaction.