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Wound licking is an instinctive response in humans and many other animals to lick an injury. Dogs, cats, rodents and primates all lick wounds. The enzyme lysozyme is found in many tissues and is known to attack the cell walls of many gram-positive bacteria, aiding in defense against infection. Tears are also beneficial to wounds due to the lysozyme enzyme.
- Further information: Saliva#Disinfectants
Oral mucosa heals faster than skin, suggesting that saliva may have properties that aid wound healing. Saliva contains many compounds that are antibacterial or promote healing. The enzymes lysozyme and peroxidase, defensins, cystatins and an antibody, IgA, are all antibacterial. Thrombospondin and some other components are antiviral. A protease inhibitor, secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor, is present in saliva and is both antibacterial and antiviral, and a promoter of wound healing. Nitrates that are naturally found in saliva break down into nitric oxide on contact with skin, which will inhibit bacterial growth. Saliva contains growth factors such as epidermal growth factor, VEGF, TGF-β1, leptin, IGF-I, lysophosphatidic acid, hyaluronan and NGF, which all promote healing, although levels of EGF and NGF in humans are much lower than those in rats. In humans, histatins may play a larger role. As well as being growth factors, IGF-I and TGF-α induce antimicrobial peptides. Saliva also contains an analgesic, opiorphin. Licking will also tend to debride the wound and remove gross contamination from the affected area.
In non-human animalsEdit
It has been long observed that the licking of their wounds by dogs might be beneficial. Indeed, a dog's saliva is bactericidal against the bacteria Escherichia coli and Streptococcus canis, although not against coagulase positive Staphylococcus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Wound licking is also important in other animals. Removal of the salivary glands of mice and rats slows wound healing, and communal licking of wounds among rodents accelerates wound healing. Communal licking is common in several primate species. In macaques, hair surrounding a wound and any dirt is removed, and the wound is licked, healing without infection.
Too much licking of wounds can be harmful. An Elizabethan collar is sometimes worn by pet animals to prevent biting or excessive wound licking, which can cause a lick granuloma. These lesions are often infected by pathogenic bacteria such as Staphylococcus intermedius. Infection is another risk. Horses that lick wounds may become infected by a stomach parasite, Habronema, a type of nematode worm. The rabies virus may be transmitted between kudu antelopes by wound licking.
In an unusual case, an Oregon teacher was reprimanded after licking blood from wounds on a track team member's knee, a football player's arm, and a high school student's hand. An Oregon public health officer commented that "We do know that animals lick their own wounds, and it may be that saliva has some healing properties. But my very strong recommendation is that you confine yourself to licking your own wounds."
There are many legends involving healing wounds by licking them or applying saliva. The Saint Magdalena de Pazzi is said to have cured a nun of sores and scabs in 1589 by licking her limbs. The Roman Emperor Vespasian is said to have performed a healing of a blind man using his saliva. Pliny the Elder in his Natural History reported that a fasting woman's saliva is an effective cure for bloodshot eyes. A Filipino belief, usog, holds that a child afflicted by the evil eye by a stranger can be relieved of their distress by applying the stranger's saliva to their body.
There are potential health hazards in wound licking due to infection risk, especially in immunocompromised patients. Human saliva contains a wide variety of bacteria that are harmless in the mouth, but that may cause significant infection if introduced into a wound. A notable case was a diabetic man who licked his bleeding thumb following a minor bicycle accident, and subsequently had to have the thumb amputated after it became infected with Eikenella corrodens from his saliva. The practice of metzitzah during circumcision is controversial as it can transmit the herpes virus to the infant. Attempting to suck out venom following a snakebite may also introduce infection.
Licking of people's wounds by animalsEdit
In history and legendEdit
- Further information: Dogs in religion
Dog saliva has been said by many cultures to have curative powers in people. "Langue de chien, langue de médecin" is a French saying meaning "A dog's tongue is a doctor's tongue", and a Latin quote that "Lingua canis dum lingit vulnus curat" or "A dog's tongue, licking a wound, heals it" appears in a thirteenth-century manuscript. In Ancient Greece, dogs at the shrine of Aesculapius were trained to lick patients, and snake saliva was also applied to wounds. Saint Roch in the Middle Ages was said to have been cured of a plague of sores by licking from his dog. The Assyrian Queen Semiramis is supposed to have attempted to resurrect the slain Armenian king Ara the Beautiful by having the dog god Aralez lick his wounds. In the Scottish Highlands in the nineteenth century, dog lick was believed to be effective for treating wounds and sores. In the Gospel of Luke (16:19-31), Lazarus the Beggar's sores are licked by dogs, though this does not seem to be curative.
There are contemporary reports of the healing properties of dog saliva. Fijian fishermen are reported to allow dogs to lick their wounds to promote healing, and a case of dog saliva promoting wound healing was reported in the Lancet medical journal.
As with the licking of wounds by people, wound licking by animals carries a risk of infection. Allowing pet cats to lick open wounds can cause cellulitis and septicemia due to bacterial infections. Licking of open wounds by dogs could transmit rabies if the dog is infected with rabies, although this is said by the CDC to be rare. Dog saliva has been reported to complicate the healing of ulcers. Another issue is the possibility of an allergy to proteins in the saliva of pets, such as Fel d 1 in cat allergy and Can f 1 in dog allergy. Cases of serious infection following the licking of wounds by pets include:
- A diabetic man who was infected by Pasteurella dagmatis due to the licking of his injured toe by his dog, causing a spinal infection.
- A woman recovering from knee surgery suffered a persistent infection of the knee with Pasteurella after her dog licked a small wound on her toe.
- A dog lick to an Australian woman's minor burn caused septicemia and necrosis due to Capnocytophaga canimorsus infection, resulting in the loss of all her toes, fingers and a leg.
- C. canimorsus caused acute renal failure due to septicemia in a man whose open hand wound was licked by his dog.
- A 68 year old man died from septicemia and necrotizing fasciitis after a wound was licked by his dog.
- A patient with a perforated eardrum developed meningitis after his dog passed on a Pasteurella multocida infection by licking his ear.
- A woman recovering from surgery for endometrial cancer suffered from Pasteurella multocida infection causing an abscess after her cat licked the incision.
- A blood donor whose cat licked her chapped fingers passed on Pasteurella infection to a 74-year old transfusion recipient.
- A seven-week old boy contracted meningitis due to Pasteurella from contact with pet saliva.
To "lick your wounds" means to "to withdraw temporarily while recovering from a defeat"
The phrase was spoken by Marcus Antonius]] in John Dryden's seventeenth century play All for Love:
They look on us at distance, and, like curs
Scaped from the lion's paws, they bay far off
And lick their wounds, and faintly threaten war.
- ↑ Engel, Cindy (2003). Wild Health: Lessons in Natural Wellness from the Animal Kingdom, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- ↑ Szpaderska AM, Zuckerman JD, DiPietro LA (August 2003). Differential Injury Responses in Oral Mucosal and Cutaneous Wounds. J. Dent. Res. 82 (8): 621–6.
- ↑ Ihalin R, Loimaranta V, Tenovuo J (January 2006). Origin, structure, and biological activities of peroxidases in human saliva. Arch Biochem Biophys 445 (2): 261–8.
- ↑ Abiko Y, Nishimura M, Kaku T (2003). Defensins in saliva and the salivary glands. Med Electron Microsc 36 (4): 247–52.
- ↑ Schenkels LC, Veerman EC, Nieuw Amerongen AV (1995). Biochemical composition of human saliva in relation to other mucosal fluids. Crit. Rev. Oral Biol. Med. 6 (2): 161–75.
- ↑ Campo J, Perea MA, del Romero J, Cano J, Hernando V, Bascones A (May 2006). Oral transmission of HIV, reality or fiction? An update. Oral Dis 12 (3): 219–28.
- ↑ Baron S, Singh I, Chopra A, Coppenhaver D, Pan J (November 2000). Innate antiviral defenses in body fluids and tissues. Antiviral Res. 48 (2): 71–89.
- ↑ Ashcroft GS, Lei K, Jin W, et al. (October 2000). Secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor mediates non-redundant functions necessary for normal wound healing. Nat. Med. 6 (10): 1147–53.
- ↑ Kate Wong: A Protein's Healing Powers. Scientific American 2 October 2000
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Benjamin N, Pattullo S, Weller R, Smith L, Ormerod A (June 1997). Wound licking and nitric oxide. Lancet 349 (9067): 1776.
- ↑ Zelles T, Purushotham KR, Macauley SP, Oxford GE, Humphreys-Beher MG (December 1995). Saliva and growth factors: the fountain of youth resides in us all. J. Dent. Res. 74 (12): 1826–32.
- ↑ Jahovic N, Güzel E, Arbak S, Yeğen BC (September 2004). The healing-promoting effect of saliva on skin burn is mediated by epidermal growth factor (EGF): role of the neutrophils. Burns 30 (6): 531–8.
- ↑ Pammer J, Weninger W, Mildner M, Burian M, Wojta J, Tschachler E (October 1998). Vascular endothelial growth factor is constitutively expressed in normal human salivary glands and is secreted in the saliva of healthy individuals. J. Pathol. 186 (2): 186–91.
- ↑ Schrementi ME, Ferreira AM, Zender C, DiPietro LA (2008). Site-specific production of TGF-beta in oral mucosal and cutaneous wounds. Wound Repair Regen 16 (1): 80–6.
- ↑ Frank S, Stallmeyer B, Kämpfer H, Kolb N, Pfeilschifter J (August 2000). Leptin enhances wound re-epithelialization and constitutes a direct function of leptin in skin repair. J. Clin. Invest. 106 (4): 501–9.
- ↑ Gröschl M, Topf HG, Kratzsch J, Dötsch J, Rascher W, Rauh M (April 2005). Salivary leptin induces increased expression of growth factors in oral keratinocytes. J. Mol. Endocrinol. 34 (2): 353–66.
- ↑ Costigan DC, Guyda HJ, Posner BI (May 1988). Free insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) and IGF-II in human saliva. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 66 (5): 1014–8.
- ↑ Todorović V, Pesko P, Micev M, et al. (October 2008). Insulin-like growth factor-I in wound healing of rat skin. Regul. Pept. 150 (1–3): 7–13.
- ↑ Sugiura T, Nakane S, Kishimoto S, Waku K, Yoshioka Y, Tokumura A (December 2002). Lysophosphatidic acid, a growth factor-like lipid, in the saliva. J. Lipid Res. 43 (12): 2049–55.
- ↑ Balazs L, Okolicany J, Ferrebee M, Tolley B, Tigyi G (1 February 2001). Topical application of the phospholipid growth factor lysophosphatidic acid promotes wound healing in vivo. Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. 280 (2): R466–72.
- ↑ Pogrel MA, Low MA, Stern R (June 2003). Hyaluronan (hyaluronic acid) and its regulation in human saliva by hyaluronidase and its inhibitors. J Oral Sci 45 (2): 85–91.
- ↑ Li AK, Koroly MJ, Schattenkerk ME, Malt RA, Young M (July 1980). Nerve growth factor: acceleration of the rate of wound healing in mice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 77 (7): 4379–81.
- ↑ Kawamoto K, Matsuda H (2004). Nerve growth factor and wound healing. Prog. Brain Res. 146: 369–84.
- ↑ Nam JW, Chung JW, Kho HS, Chung SC, Kim YK (March 2007). Nerve growth factor concentration in human saliva. Oral Dis 13 (2): 187–92.
- ↑ Oudhoff MJ, Bolscher JG, Nazmi K, et al. (November 2008). Histatins are the major wound-closure stimulating factors in human saliva as identified in a cell culture assay. FASEB J. 22 (11): 3805–12.
- ↑ Wright K (28 December 2008). Top 100 Stories of 2008 #62: Researchers Discover Why Wound-Licking Works. Discover Magazine.
- ↑ Sørensen OE, Cowland JB, Theilgaard-Mönch K, Liu L, Ganz T, Borregaard N (1 June 2003). Wound healing and expression of antimicrobial peptides/polypeptides in human keratinocytes, a consequence of common growth factors. J. Immunol. 170 (11): 5583–9.
- ↑ Wisner A, Dufour E, Messaoudi M, et al. (November 2006). Human Opiorphin, a natural antinociceptive modulator of opioid-dependent pathways. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 103 (47): 17979–84.
- ↑ Hart BL, Powell KL (September 1990). Antibacterial properties of saliva: role in maternal periparturient grooming and in licking wounds. Physiol. Behav. 48 (3): 383–6.
- ↑ Bodner L, Knyszynski A, Adler-Kunin S, Danon D (1991). The effect of selective desalivation on wound healing in mice. Exp. Gerontol. 26 (4): 357–63.
- ↑ Hutson JM, Niall M, Evans D, Fowler R (June 1979). Effect of salivary glands on wound contraction in mice. Nature 279 (5716): 793–5.
- ↑ Bodner L (1991). Effect of parotid submandibular and sublingual saliva on wound healing in rats. Comp Biochem Physiol a Comp Physiol 100 (4): 887–90.
- ↑ Dittus WPJ, Ratnayeke SM (1989). Individual and social behavioral responses to injury in wild toque macaques (Macaca Sinica). International Journal of Primatology 10 (3): 215–34.
- ↑ Shumaker AK, Angus JC, Coyner KS, Loeffler DG, Rankin SC, Lewis TP (October 2008). Microbiological and histopathological features of canine acral lick dermatitis. Vet. Dermatol. 19 (5): 288–98.
- ↑ Mansfield K, McElhinney L, Hübschle O, et al. (2006). A molecular epidemiological study of rabies epizootics in kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) in Namibia. BMC Vet. Res. 2: 2.
- ↑ includeonly>"Board reprimands Oregon teacher for licking students' wounds", The Seattle Times, The Seattle Times Company, 4 August 2005. Retrieved on 16 Jan 2009.
- ↑ Coach reprimanded for licking players’ cuts msnbc.com 5 Aug. 2005
- ↑ Fabrini, Placido; Isoleri, Antonio (1900). The life of St. Mary Magdalen De-Pazzi : Florentine noble, sacred Carmelite virgin.
- ↑ Eve E (2008). Spit in Your Eye: The Blind Man of Bethsaida and the Blind Man of Alexandria. New Testament Studies 54: 1–17.
- ↑ Pliny the Elder, translated from the Latin by W. H. S. Jones
- ↑ Weil HP, Fischer-Brügge U, Koch P (April 2002). Potential hazard of wound licking. N. Engl. J. Med. 346 (17): 1336.
- ↑ Jennifer Warner: Rare Circumcision Ritual Carries Herpes Risk WebMD Health News, 2 August 2004
- ↑ Jorge MT, Ribeiro LA (1997). Infections in the bite site after envenoming by snakes of the Bothrops genus. J Venom Anim Toxins 3 (2).
- ↑ Hatfield, Gabrielle (2004). Encyclopedia of Folk Medicine: Old World and New World Traditions, ABC-CLIO.
- ↑ Daniels, Cora Linn; C. M. Stevans (2003). Encyclopfdia of Superstitions, Folklore, and the Occult Sciences of the World (Volume II), 668, Minerva Group Inc..
- ↑ The Aberdeen Bestiary, a thirteenth-century English illuminated manuscript
- ↑ Angeletti LR, Agrimi U, Curia C, French D, Mariani-Costantini R (July 1992). Healing rituals and sacred serpents. Lancet 340 (8813): 223–5.
- ↑ Serpell, James (1996). In the Company of Animals: A Study of Human-animal Relationships, Cambridge University Press.
- ↑ Ananikian, Mardiros (1925). Armenian Mythology in The Mythology of All Races Volume VII, New York: Archaeological Institute of America, Marshall Jones Co..
- ↑ Gregor, Walter (1881). Notes on the Folk-Lore of the North-East of Scotland, 251, Forgotten Books.
- ↑ Verrier L (March 1970). Dog licks man. Lancet 1 (7647): 615.
- ↑ DiNubile MJ, Lipsky BA (June 2004). Complicated infections of skin and skin structures: when the infection is more than skin deep. J. Antimicrob. Chemother. 53 Suppl 2: ii37–50.
- ↑ Yu GV, Boike AM, Hladik JR (1995). An unusual case of diabetic cellulitis due to Pasturella multocida. J Foot Ankle Surg 34 (1): 91–5.
- ↑ Hazouard E, Ferrandière M, Lanotte P, Le Marcis L, Cattier B, Giniès G (September 2000). [Septic shock caused by Pasteurella multocida in alcoholic patients. Probable contamination of leg ulcers by the saliva of the domestic cats]. Presse Med 29 (16): 1455–7.
- ↑ Valtonen M, Lauhio A, Carlson P, et al. (June 1995). Capnocytophaga canimorsus septicemia: fifth report of a cat-associated infection and five other cases. Eur. J. Clin. Microbiol. Infect. Dis. 14 (6): 520–3.
- ↑ Phanuphak P, Ubolyam S, Sirivichayakul S (1994). Should travellers in rabies endemic areas receive pre-exposure rabies immunization?. Ann Med Interne (Paris) 145 (6): 409–11.
- ↑ (July 2004). Investigation of rabies infections in organ donor and transplant recipients—Alabama, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, 2004. MMWR Morb. Mortal. Wkly. Rep. 53 (26): 586–9.
- ↑ Knowles J (2000 Jan 27-Feb 2). Dog saliva complicates the healing of ulcers. Nurs Times 96 (4 Suppl): 8.
- ↑ Konieczny A, Morgenstern JP, Bizinkauskas CB, et al. (December 1997). The major dog allergens, Can f 1 and Can f 2, are salivary lipocalin proteins: cloning and immunological characterization of the recombinant forms. Immunology 92 (4): 577–86.
- ↑ Dupuy O, Garrabé E, Bordier L, Boyer B, Goasguen O, Mayaudon H, Bauduceau B (October 2006). Pasteurella dagmatis spondylodiscitis in a diabetic patient. Rev Med Interne 27 (10): 803–4.
- ↑ Heym B, Jouve F, Lemoal M, Veil-Picard A, Lortat-Jacob A, Nicolas-Chanoine MH (October 2006). Pasteurella multocida infection of a total knee arthroplasty after a "dog lick". Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc 14 (10): 993–7.
- ↑ Low SC, Greenwood JE (July 2008). Capnocytophaga canimorsus: infection, septicaemia, recovery and reconstruction. J. Med. Microbiol. 57 (Pt 7): 901–3.
- ↑ includeonly>Staff writers. "Woman loses leg, fingers, toes from dog lick", Herald Sun (Australia), Herald and Weekly Times, 25 July 2008. Retrieved on 30 January 2009.
- ↑ Anderson CE, Jayawardene SA, Carmichael P (2000). A lick may be as bad as a bite: irreversible acute renal failure. Nephrol Dial Transplant 15 (11): 1883–4.
- ↑ Ko Chang, L. K. Siu, Yen-Hsu Chen, Po-Liang Lu, Tun-Chieh Chen, Hsiao-Chen Hsieh, Chun-Lu Lin (2007). Fatal Pasteurella multocida septicemia and necrotizing fasciitis related with wound licked by a domestic dog. Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases 39 (2): 167–70.
- ↑ Godey B, Morandi X, Bourdinière J, Heurtin C (1999). Beware of dogs licking ears. Lancet 354 (9186): 1267–8.
- ↑ Chun ML, Buekers TE, Sood AK, Sorosky JI (April 2003). Postoperative wound infection with Pasteurella multocida from a pet cat. Am J Obstet Gynecol 188 (4): 1115–6.
- ↑ Bryant BJ, Conry-Cantilena C, Ahlgren A, Felice A, Stroncek DF, Gibble J, Leitman SF (November 2007). Pasteurella multocida bacteremia in asymptomatic plateletpheresis donors: a tale of two cats. Transfusion 47 (11): 1984–9.
- ↑ Wade T, Booy R, Teare EL, Kroll S (November 1999). Pasteurella multocida meningitis in infancy – (a lick may be as bad as a bite). Eur J Pediatr 158 (11): 875–8.
- ↑ wiktionary:To lick one's wounds
- ↑ Dryden, John (1677). All for Love, or the World Well Lost.
- Rhianon Davies True or False: Licking a Wound Can Promote Healing 2008 EBSCO Publishing
- New Scientist The Last Word: Wound licking. 3 December 2008
- Robert S. Root-Bernstein, Michele M. Root-Bernstein (1998). Honey, Mud, Maggots, and Other Medical Marvels, Chapter 9. Mariner Books. ISBN 0-395-92492-8, ISBN 978-0-395-92492-1
- Video clip of woman having a wound licked by a dog. Living With The Wolfman: Licking Wounds Animal Planet, Discovery Communications, LLC.
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