A man whose infected penis split had it reconstructed with Manuka honey, a medical journal has reported.
Doctors first thought the patient, 55, from Roskilde, Denmark, was suffering from balanoposthitis, a condition which causes the foreskin and glans to become inflamed.
But after further examination, they discovered he was circumcised, but had non-cancerous tumours at the root, shaft and tip of his penis.
These had then become infected and caused penile denudation, where the skin of the penis splits, the International Journal of Surgery Case stated.
After removing the tumours, medics attempted to repair the penis using skin grafts, but opted for honey dressings instead when the procedure was unsuccessful.
Manuka honey is known to have antiviral, ant-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and can be used to treat anti-healing wounds.
It’s made from nectar collected by bees that pollinate manuka trees, found in New Zealand and Australia.
The report said that within two weeks, healthy tissue started to fill the wound on the man’s genitals.
Dr Amalie Sylvester-Hvid, who led the team, said they then attempted a second skin graft, this time of split-thickness, from the patient’s thigh – regarded as the best way to heal a split penis.
However, the graft was ineffective and medics decided to return to the honey dressings, which had been ‘uncomplicated so far’.
Within 52 days the man’s penis was healed, with ‘full sexual function’ restored, the report said.
The patient had been able to remove the honey dressings every other day without any difficulty, infection or pain, it also noted.
Doctors said the results proved honey could be a viable alternative to antibiotics in the future and could even combat resistant strains of infection like MRSA.
The report said: ‘The growing challenge of bacterial resistance to antibiotics has led to the development of several options of conservative wound treatment.
‘None of them have shown the combined wound healing attributes found in medical-grade honey.
‘Studies have shown a range of species of bacteria, including MRSA and vancomycin resistant enterococci, are susceptible to the antibacterial activity of honey without developing resistance.
‘Considering the adverse effects of conventional antibiotics and the increasing resistance to antibiotics, we hope that Manuka honey soon finds a more permanent place in the physician’s arsenal of wound treatment products.’
Medics believe this is the first time penile denudation had been treated with Manuka honey.
The report said: ‘Because of the simple use, effectiveness, low cost, and wide applicability, we find it relevant to present this treatment as a non-invasive treatment option for challenging wounds in the genital region as it is not well-described elsewhere.’