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February 2017

The Evolution of Burn Therapy—Then and Now

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of General Medicine, National University Hospital, Singapore
JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(2):136. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.0164

The earliest known record of burn treatment is in the ancient Egyptian Ebers Papyrus (dated 1500 bc), which contains descriptions of applications of mud, excrement, oil, plant extracts, frogs boiled in oil, or fermenting goat dung.1 The Greeks and Romans used dressings impregnated with rendered pig fat, resin, and bitumen (Hippocrates, fourth century BC).1 Galen (ad 129-199) was known for being the first person to use cold water to treat burns.1 His treatments for most wounds included wine, vinegar, and water compresses. Today, studies have shown that cooling treatment decreases wound depth, reduces time for wound reepithelialization and requirement for grafting and scar management.

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