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AJN, American Journal of Nursing

December 2002, Volume 102 Number 12 , p 73 - 77


  • Hermi Hewitt PhD, RN, RM
  • Yvonne Wint MPH, FNP, RM
  • Laurel Talabere PhD, CNS, CPNP, AE-C
  • Sheryll Lopez MEd, RN, RM
  • Ellen Bailey MEd, RN, RM
  • Omkar Parshad PhD
  • Steve Weaver MPH, RN





  • Recent use of papaya to treat pressure ulcers.

  • Selecting and preparing papaya.

  • Applying papaya to pressure ulcers.

  • Changes seen in the ulcers after applying papaya.

  • Documenting the use of papaya.

  • General experience of the nurses.



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  • In developing countries where medications and medical supplies are often in short supply or too expensive for most patients, nurses and other providers have adopted innovative and cost-effective alternatives to standard treatments. One example is the use of the fruit of the papaya tree ( Carica papaya ) to treat pressure ulcers. Nurses in Jamaica with years of clinical experience attest to its effectiveness, as both a debriding agent and a healing one. Yet there is surprisingly little documentation in the literature to support the use of papaya in managing pressure ulcers.

    Also known as decubitus ulcers, bedsores, or pressure sores, pressure ulcers were described in medical texts as early as the 16th century. 1 Before antibiotics, they caused high rates of morbidity and mortality. Slow to heal and easily infected when necrotic, pressure ulcers can be life threatening without proper treatment.

    A nurse’s primary concern with pressure ulcers is prevention, although they do occur even with proper nursing care. Therefore, secondary concerns are to keep them from growing and becoming infected. Nurses and other providers have used several methods to treat or prevent ulcers, including periodically turning the immobilized patient, relieving pressure when possible, applying various topical agents, and administering prescribed antibiotics. This article describes a project in Kingston, Jamaica, ...

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