How Botox Helps Treat Burn Victims
There have been significant advances over the last few years into different applications of Botox® injections for patients. It is now widely used in managing muscle spasticity disorders including spastic disorders associated with cerebral palsy in children. More recently, there have been reports of Botox® being used to manage patients who have suffered from burns. Here we shall take a look at this aspect of its use a bit closer.
Skin changes in burns
Following a burn injury, the skin undergoes a long healing process characterised by blister formation and new skin formation. During this process, patients can develop tightening of the skin called contractures. Contractures can be painful and limit joint mobility, in addition to be being terribly irritating and causing itching. This irritation is due to the damage of the sweat glands on the surface of the skin which exposes the underlying nerve fibres. These nerve fibres are unprotected and can cause irritation when stimulated.
These effects can take a toll on the patient’s mental state and quality of life, thus leading them to seek treatment to relieve these symptoms.
Use of Botox® injections
The use of Botox® as a treatment option to manage burns is relatively recent. A quick pubmed search of the term ‘Botox® and burns’ reveals all of 3 results! The studies that have been conducted assess the healing process following burn injuries in rats. Parameters such as alterations in skin histology, transepidermal water loss and levels of tumor necrosis factor were assessed, and interestingly Botox® injections into the site helped promote cell regeneration and delay inflammation. A dramatic improvement in the cosmetic appearance of the burn scare was also visibly evident.1
More recently, a study was conducted assessing the effects of Botox® injections in 10 patients who had suffered from deep partial thickness to full thickness burns and were suffering from a great deal of itching. A remarkable improvement was seen in these patients, with those suffering from significant itching recovering completely after 4 weeks following the injections. Patients remained symptom free for up to 18 months, with an average of around 9 months.2
In 2013, following the research that had been conducted so far, Botox® was finally utilised to help a patient get rid of her itching following a nasty skin burn that involved the face, neck and hands.
The uses of botox are ever increasing, with research revealing exciting results so far. Its application in burns victims is novel and preliminary results are promising. One can only speculate for now as to how important botox will be in managing patients with burns injuries and helping them get back the quality of life they so desire after such a traumatic ordeal.
1. Abdallah, Hajj Hussein I., et al. “Rat model of burn wound healing: effect of Botox.” Journal of biological regulators and homeostatic agents 26.3 (2012): 389.
2. Akhtar, N., and P. Brooks. “The use of botulinum toxin in the management of burns itching: Preliminary results.” Burns (2012).
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