Scientists in the U.K. are developing wound dressings from recycled eggshells.

The wound care industry is all about exploring new ideas to decrease costs and improve patient treatment. While options like honey, foam and collagen are more traditional, there are wound dressings made from a slew of seemingly unlikely sources. That list includes crab shells, algae and special fluorescent dye, among several other unique types.

Now, there could be a new dressing variety made from a source with a little more history in the wound care industry. As the U.K.’s Telegraph and Argus reported, scientists could use eggshells to create a powerful new form of wound dressings.

An excellent idea

This unique approach is the work of a team from IHR WoundTec HTC at the National Institute for Health Research and scientists from the Norwegian medical firm Biovotec came up with this unique approach. Researchers are working on a specialized plaster dressing that’s made almost entirely from recycled eggshells. The team takes the leftover eggshells and creates a plaster similar to that of blister film dressing. It takes just seven to eight eggs to create a 10-centimeter patch of wound dressing. And there is plenty of material to work with.

Speaking with the Telegraph and Argus, Biovotec CEO Ralf Schmidt said that his company estimated some 600 million eggs are consumed and then discarded each day. That would certainly fit with numbers provided by the American Egg Board, which revealed shell egg production surpassed the 6.9 billion mark in December 2015.

The research collective believes that the eggs will not only cut costs, but can actually improve patients’ healing rates. The team finds out for sure when clinical trials launch in early 2017. If all goes according to plan, the eggshell dressings could be available on the European market in 2018.

The power of eggs

Speaking with the Telegraph and Argus, project manager Hussein Dharma said the team plumbed some ancient folk history to come up with using eggshells.

“The idea is based on an old Chinese remedy for healing wounds, which used the thin membrane coating around the eggshell as a dressing for wounds because it’s known to have properties which can accelerate the healing process,” he said.

So is there any scientific proof or validity to this old remedy? As it turns out, there are several wound care benefits to eggs. For one, eating eggs means consuming high levels of zinc. This valuable nutrient bolsters the immune system and improves tissue regrowth. Meanwhile, there is also evidence that egg yolks can be as a topical oil to treat third degree burns.

Is there any other evidence for the use of eggshells, though? Similar research was presented in 2003, published in the Chang Gung Medical Journal. This study found comparable results to the more recent U.K. team, which could suggest that eggshells make a great option for promoting healing wounds and assisting with pain relief.

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