By: Rebecca Morris-Ostrom
Gold is more expensive, but silver may be more valuable to your health. Because of the metal’s antibacterial properties, both Curad and Band-Aid are coming out with a new line of silver-infused bandages.
Silver has been used for thousands of years as a healing and preventive health product. Treating wounds with silver was common from the 1800s to the mid-1900s, when the use of antibiotics took precedence in the medical field. However, silver is still utilized in many medical circumstances. Newborn infants’ eyes are treated with silver to prevent infection. Hospitals use a silver treatment to dress scars and wounds, especially wounds that resist healing. Catheters are lined with silver to prevent infection and water is purified with silver. Now, silver is coming to the at-home health care market.
|How well do you know your silver?|
1. Silver is not poisonous to the body – only to harmful microbes
2. Silver reduces the growth of hundreds of types of bacteria responsible for wound infection
3. Silver is now being incorporated into bandages but should not be combined with antibacterial ointment because it will hamper the healing properties
Silver is incorporated into the wound pad of the new bandages, which come in a variety of sizes. They can be used to treat cuts, scrapes, and burns. No antibacterial spray or ointment (such as Neosporin) should be used with these bandages, because it may hamper the silver’s healing properties.
Although scientists and health professionals have warned about the rise of “supergerms,” microbes that have become resistant to antibiotic treatments, bacteria seems unable to build up a resistance to silver. Silver interferes with the bacteria in at least three ways: by interacting with the cell membrane, binding to the DNA of cells, and blocking the metabolism of the bacteria. It reduces the growth of hundreds of different types of bacteria, including some that do not normally react to pharmaceutical antibacterial agents. Because silver blocks the growth and spread of germs through multiple mechanisms, it is hard for bacteria to build up resistance.
Unlike some other metals, silver is not poisonous to the body—only to harmful microbes. It is also not addictive, and is very difficult to overdose on.
In addition to hundreds of years of practical use, recent scientific studies on humans and animals have shown that wounds treated with silver heal at a faster rate than those treated without silver.
If you do have a slow-healing wound, however, don’t just rub a piece of silver jewelry over the area. Different forms of the metal serve different purposes, and non-sterile silver may bring new bacteria to a wound.