Maggots and Wound Care: The Not-So-Odd Couple

Published on May 23, 2016 by Diana Ramirez-Ripp

The use of maggots in wound care is making a comeback – in the form of maggot debridement therapy – and wound clinicians can’t wait to talk about it.

Most people don’t get too excited about maggots. In fact, the mere mention of legless larvae surely triggers gag responses and/or skin crawling in millions of non-healthcare citizens everywhere. But that’s definitely not the case for those of us in wound care.

We not only embrace the thought of maggots being used as a wound care option, we’re putting them in the spotlight at the 2016 Wild On Wounds (WOW) National Wound Conference in Las Vegas, Aug. 31 – Sept. 3. Thanks to maggot aficionado and speaker Dr. Ron Sherman, you’ll be able to learn all about how they can make excellent (albeit tiny) wound care assistants. You won’t want to miss this one!

Maggots and wound care

Ronald Sherman, MD

Ron Sherman, MD, MSc, DTM&H, and BTER Foundation Director

Certainly, the use of maggots in wound care isn’t a novel idea. For centuries, military surgeons have observed the beneficial effects of maggot-infested wounds in soldiers abandoned on the battlefield, and how their wounds healed faster. And way before doctors were readily available, indigenous healers were well-aware of maggots and their ability to assist in the wound healing process.

Today, wound care specialists are increasingly including maggot therapy among their techniques and tools. This is largely due to the results of controlled clinical studies showing the efficacy and safety of maggot therapy. Not to mention … well, basic science. Medicinal maggots are effective in treating chronic wounds. Period.

“Although there is often some hesitation at first, most clinicians who try maggot therapy recognize how simple and effective it is for preparing the wound bed,” says Sherman. “It’s all about getting comfortable with and becoming educated about maggots in wound care.”

What to expect

Hands-on with maggot dressings

Hands-on with maggot dressings

Dr. Ronald Sherman, MD, MSc, DTM&H, and BTER Foundation Director, will lead the hands-on WOW presentation, “Maggot Debridement Therapy,” which will be taught in two sessions. Back by popular demand, the session will provide both didactic and hands-on learning experience.  Attendees will walk away with a full understanding of this approach to wound care.

Sherman says he’ll share the mechanics of applying maggot dressings, along with different techniques used in the field. He will also explore the history of maggots in wound care, and the best ways to implement this type of therapy in terms of applications and communication.Maggot pull quote (1)

Maggot misconceptions

Medical maggots

Medical maggots

If the general public is squeamish about the use of maggots in a healthcare setting, imagine what facility administrators might think! Sherman says that one of the biggest misconceptions – or at least the most commonly quoted justification for not using maggot therapy – is that patients won’t accept it.

“This idea has been shown to be false over and over again,” says Sherman, adding that the therapists and general public who don’t see maggots as an acceptable approach only believe that way because they don’t have wounds themselves.

“Patients who have stinking, draining and limb-threatening wounds that interfere with their work or social activities can put the idea of maggot dressings in an appropriate context,” Sherman says. “They are open to anything that will help them heal. It’s usually the therapists or program administrators who are really the ones with the greatest hang-ups over germ-free, medical grade maggots.”

Education is key

Whether they’re therapists who aren’t at all familiar with maggot therapy, or clinicians who are already on board with using medicinal maggots, it’s difficult to know how to communicate this area of wound care with patients or administrators. That’s why education is key. Finding effective ways to inform facility decision-makers and patients about the benefits and techniques in maggot debridement therapy can help relieve fears and ultimately provide an effective treatment for suffering patients.

“WOW is one of the best wound care conferences around because it is geared to and effectively informs not only diverse wound care therapists, but also our wound care educators,” says Sherman. “WOW has always been highly educational in the classroom, and comfortable and fun outside the classroom as well.”

Are you ready for maggots?

You can learn more about maggots in wound care, along with a whole list of other current wound care topics, at the 2016 WOW National Wound Conference in Las Vegas. Haven’t registered? It’s not too late, but you’d better hurry! Find out more about registration, sessions and what to expect right here.

Finally, we’d love to know if you’ve ever tried maggot debridement therapy, and what was it like? Have your facility administrators or patients been open to the idea? What were the results? We’d love to hear your stories or comments – please share them below.

Wild on Wounds℠ (WOW) is the national wound conference designed for healthcare professionals who are interested in enhancing their knowledge in skin and wound management. Clinicians come from all over the US to see, touch and participate in our hands-on workshops. They also learn about all the new and advanced wound care treatments and technologies to better help care for their patients. Visit for more information.

Wild on Wounds 2016

Diana Ramirez-Ripp

Diana Ramirez-Ripp is Manager of Education Services at Relias.