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Burns treatment

Promotional leaflet for Wellcome's

Promotional leaflet for Wellcome's "Tannafax", used in the treatment of burns, 1930s.

Credits:Wellcome Library, London.

The use of high explosives and flammable material caused burns to many soldiers. The effects could be horrendous. Aviation fuel was highly flammable and many pilots suffered terrible burns as they had little protection in the cockpit. The introduction of safety equipment such as gloves, helmets and goggles helped protect pilots from more severe burns. Archibald McIndoe treated four thousand men who had suffered burns from aviation fuel. Each patient had an average of 12 operations. McIndoe also rejected the use of tannic acid to cover burns. Instead, he prescribed saline baths which helped the sensitive skin recover and ward off infection.

McIndoe’s patients established the Guinea Pig Club - the patients said they felt like experimental guinea pigs. By 1945 there were 644 members. Later, the expertise acquired by McIndoe and his team was used for treating naturally occurring deformities, as well as for reconstructive surgery and cosmetic surgery.


Related links


E Bishop, McIndoe’s Army (London: Grub Street, 2001)

E R Mayhew, The Reconstruction of Warriors (London: Greenhill, 2004)