Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Can Cayenne Pepper Heal Cuts?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010 09:54 AM

Question: Many years ago my three-year-old granddaughter suffered a cut on her forehead which bled profusely. We were at someone's home, and before we could take her to the emergency room for stitches, the hostess applied cayenne pepper to the gash. The child stopped crying and the bleeding stopped immediately. Later we saw that the pepper had drawn the wound closed and it healed with only a tiny scar. We've used it ever since, but I've never heard of it anywhere else.

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

You were very fortunate. Facial wounds heal quickly and very well in children due to excellent blood supply, but any separation of wound edges is best managed by professional repair. Usually wounds on the face that bleed profusely are deep enough to warrant thorough cleansing and repair by suture or by "tissue glue." I recommend you add no chemicals, irritants, or ointments to open wounds that may require repair. You may end up tattooing yourself inadvertently, not to mention forming unpredictable scarring. The most difficult wounds I repair are those that have been contaminated by some well-meaning individual, when all they usually have done is to tattoo and irritate delicate tissue.

Please avoid placing anything into open wounds. Simple pressure is sufficient. By all means, do not add hydrogen peroxide to any wound that may require repair, as it will destroy delicate cells that are needed for a good cosmetic result, and often delay effective healing. Likewise, cayenne pepper is an irritant and has antimicrobial properties, and should not be used on open wounds that may require closure. Although cayenne pepper may be innocuous on superficial injuries, placed in open wounds it can be quite destructive setting the stage for complicating infections, abscess formation, and scar formation.

Always be aware of your tetanus immunization status, and receive your booster vaccine if needed (once every 10 years or less), especially if the wound is contaminated by soil.

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