Antioxidant, Burn wound care, Coconut oil, Microemulsion, Vitamin E

Burn is referred to as tissue damage that could be caused by different agents such as heat, chemicals, electricity, sunlight and radiation [1]. Globally, around two million people are treated for burn injuries every year [2]. Most commonly used treatments for burns are topical creams and ointments applied on the burnt area directly. Burns can be categorized into three groups depending on the level and extent of damage. The minor degrees which can be treated at home may fall in first or sometimes in the second category [3]. First degree burns affect the outermost skin layer and can easily be treated. They are less severe and only cause pain and redness of the skin. Such burns are not severe and do not need specialized treatment [4]. Second degree of burns would affect part of the outermost skin layer and the burn tends to get deep into the blood vessels and damages a mass of tissues. Sometimes, glands, bones and nerves are prone to the damage. However, the third category of burns can result into fatalities [5].

Natural compounds have been used as therapeutic agents since ages, owing to their wide spectrum of pharmacological properties [6]. The extensive research work carried out for developing these natural products as alternative therapeutic agents has presented a whole new array of drug discovery. These natural compounds even at higher doses have exhibited minimal toxicity and side-effects [7], emphasizing their importance as therapeutic agents.

Coconut oil is used for many skin disorders and is considered one of the best skin healers and beautifiers used all over the world today. Recent research on coconut oil indicated that it could act as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agent [8] and therefore, could fasten up the progression of healing superficial and deep second-degree burns. It also helps to prevent burnt skin from viral or bacterial infection thus facilitating healing of skin burns [9]. Moreover, coconut oil is widely used due to its natural ability to reduce various types of scars that arise after skin burns. Scars are the fibrous tissues that tend to form to replace normal skin after a burn [5]. Coconut oil has vitamin E that is a potential antioxidant and helps to speed up the recovery of skin abrasions [8].

Continuous use of coconut oil could lessen the appearance of the scars and burns and make them less noticeable but does not completely eliminate the scars. Moreover, it may or may not be useful to apply coconut oil to aid second and third-degree burns. Therefore, to enhance the penetrating efficiency of coconut oil, colloidal drug delivery systems like micro emulsions (MEs) present a vesicular system that is known to enhance the overall pharmacological effects of encapsulated agents [10]. MEs serve as a versatile carrier for drug delivery owing to their lipophilic, hydrophilic and amphiphilic phases. The bio actives can be encapsulated depending on their physicochemical properties in either of these phases [11]. Oil-in-water type of emulsions are considered to be more stable in vivo, as their structure does not get disturbed upon dilution by body fluids [12]. MEs can be considered as next step in the class of anti-microbial and disinfecting agents [13, 14]. Recent research work in this area is evident about the fact that MEs have a wide spectrum of activity against both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, enveloped viruses, fungi and spores [15]. These can be easily rescaled from laboratory to large scale production [16]. ME droplets are thermodynamically driven to fuse with other lipid containing micro-organisms and their fusion is further enhanced by the electrostatic interaction between them. A part of energy trapped within ME is released along with active ingredient when they come in contact with the micro-organism thereby causing cell lysis and death [17].


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    Authored By:

    Dr. Sonal Gupta
    Assistant Professor
    Department of Biotechnology
    K.L. Mehta Dayanand College for Women,
    Faridabad, Haryana 121001, India