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Maggots can help quicken healing, study shows

Squirming over the thought of tending to a pesky wound? Just hold still and relax: You could save yourself a painful manual scraping while creating jobs for industrious maggots.

The process of applying maggots to eat away necrotic tissue while leaving healthy skin intact isn't new (the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the cleaning technique in 2004), but, as Booster Shots reports today, few clinical trials have been performed to test its efficacy.

New research, though, indicates maggots may provide an effective quick fix against infection, for those who can handle hosting a crawly crew:

Dr. Anne Dompmartin [MD, PhD] of the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Caen in France and her colleagues studied nonhealing wounds on the legs of 119 patients. Half the patients had their wounds debrided with a scalpel three times a week for two weeks. The remainder had maggots -- the larvae of the fly Lucilia sericata -- placed on the wound twice a week for two weeks. The maggots, 80 at a time, were sealed into a commercial plastic device that prevents them from escaping while allowing access to the wound.

The team reported in the Archives of Dermatology on Monday that wound healing at the end of eight days was significantly better in the group that was cleaned with the maggots. After 15 days, however, results from the two groups were indistinguishable. Pain was moderate in both groups. Both groups also reported a crawling sensation on their wound at day eight.

Previously: “Superbug” author discusses dangers, history and treatment of MRSA

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