Of the many supposed ‘miracle’ remedies that tend to circulate over the internet from time of time, is the one about using egg whites for burns.
Many of us are likely to have received an email about a man checking a pesticide barrel and getting engulfed in flames who was then treated by his neighbor for his burns by using egg whites. Supposedly this saved the man’s face. The email ends with the exhortation that egg whites should be used to treat burns after the heat source is removed and the heat of the skin is reduced by using cold water.
You may also have heard or read a similar story about a woman who used egg whites to treat a burn from boiling water; supposedly the natural collagen in the egg whites not only formed a protective layer, it also reduced pain and sped up the healing process.
So what is the truth about burns and egg whites?
Mayo clinic’s definitive article about burn treatments and first aid makes no mention of using egg whites as a treatment for burns.
The article states that running cold water over the burnt area should be the first response and in fact the articles specifically states that applying traditional substances such as butter is not recommended since it could cause infection.
However the claims of egg whites containing “natural collagen” that miraculously works to heal skin are farfetched. In fact one ought to use caution in using egg whites for burns for the fear of salmonella. This is a bacteria that are sometimes found in unpasteurized dairy products and raw eggs that can cause a very serious infection.
So in conclusion, egg white may be a useful way to form a protective layer over the skin and protect it, but this should only be done after pouring cold water over it to reduce heat. However the caution of salmonella is not one to discount lightly either. As for the possibility of a reaction if one is allergic to eggs; well that could in cases be life threatening in extreme cases!