TLDR: Using sugar is old school, but it can be effective for minor injuries. Modern characters would likely use a commercial coagulent and antibiotics.
A trick from back in the day involved packing a wound with sugar. Apparently, this came up in the movie Shooter, where an injured character dumped sugar into a wound. (I only have the gist of what happened, I haven’t actually seen Shooter.)
As it turns out, packing granulated sugar (the white stuff, not brown sugar) over a wound can keep the injury dry, helping to decrease healing time. It’s the same concept behind Band-Aid bandages with the absorbant pad under the adhesive. Sugar can also help coagulate blood to stop bleeding.
However, the sugar trick is some seriously old school ditch medicine, and works best on minor injuries. For a more serious wound, applying pressure is the better bet to stop the bleeding, not dumping in a handful of sugar, followed by legit antibiotics. Stopping the bleeding is always step one with injuries, as Dr. James Hubbard, MD, writes in my favorite ditch medicine book, the Living Ready Pocket Manual: First Aid. (Disclaimer: we publish this at my work, so I’m biased, but I still reference this thing a ton.)
If a character is in a modern setting with access to a First Aid kit, chances are good he/she would use a coagulating sponge, pad or powder. QuikClot is one of the most popular on the civilian market, although I believe the technology started out in the military. It stops the bleeding in a snap. For $17 on Amazon, it might not be a bad idea to keep some around the house.
P.S. If you’re short on sugar, research shows honey is another option to help with healing times.
With thanks to writer bud Laura Roberts for the conversation. All images via Amazon.
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