Best Evidence Topics
  • Send this BET as an Email
  • Make a Comment on this BET

Topical therapy for facial burns

Three Part Question

In [patients with facial burns or scalds] what [topical therapy should be used] to [maximise healing]?

Clinical Scenario

A small child attends the Emergency department's minor injuries unit having sustained superficial scalds to his face. His mother was drinking a cup of hot tea which overturned on the child sitting in her lap. You wonder what topical agent (if any) to apply to these injuries.

Search Strategy

Medline 1966-week 3/09/04 using the Ovid interface.
[exp burns OR exp burns, chemical OR exp burns, electric OR burn$.mp OR scald$.mp] AND [exp face OR OR] AND [exp administration, topical OR OR exp therapeutics OR therap$.mp] LIMIT to human AND English language.

Search Outcome

Altogether 522 papers were found of which 1 was relevant.

Relevant Paper(s)

Author, date and country Patient group Study type (level of evidence) Outcomes Key results Study Weaknesses
Ang ES et al,
Subgroup analysis of a study randomising burns patients to receiving moist exposed burns ointment - MEBO (58) and silver sulphadiazine control (57)PRCTNumber of days to healing14/15 in MEBO group healed by day 10
17/19 in control group healed by day 10
Subgroup analysis of larger study Very small cohort Of the 39 facial burns, 2 died and 3 were discharged early and not followed up No details of how wound healing was measured as an outcome


The authors found no other paper addressing the outcome of topical therapy in facial burns, and in particular no study comparing no topical application to topical application.

Editor Comment

currently with original author for updating 03/06/04

Clinical Bottom Line

There is no evidence to guide the topical therapy of facial burns.


  1. Ang ES, Lee ST, Gan CS, et al. The role of alternative therapy in the management of partial thickness burns of the face - experience with the use of moist exposed burn ointment (MEBO) compared with silver sulphadiazine Annals of the Academy of Medicine 2000;29(1):7-10.