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Arch Dermatol. 2004 May;140(5):563-6.

Acaricidal activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil: in vitro sensitivity of sarcoptes scabiei var hominis to terpinen-4-ol.

Author information

  • 1Menzies School of Health Research, and Northern Territory Clinical School, Flinders University, Darwin, Australia. shelley.walton@menzies.edu.au

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To compare the acaricidal activity of Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) oil (TTO) and some of its individual active components on the itch mite Sarcoptes scabiei var hominis.

DESIGN:

In vitro acaricide sensitivity assessment.

SETTING:

The Menzies School of Health Research laboratory, located near the Infectious Diseases Ward of the Royal Darwin Hospital, Australia, where patients are admitted and treated for crusted scabies.

PARTICIPANTS:

Scabies mites (S scabiei var hominis) were collected from a 20-year-old Aboriginal woman admitted to the Royal Darwin Hospital with crusted scabies. Interventions Within 3 hours of collection, scabies mites were placed in continuous direct contact with the TTO products and control acaricides and were observed at regular intervals.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Percentage of mites dead at regular observation intervals between 5 minutes and 24 hours during continuous exposure to the TTO products and acaricides.

RESULTS:

The 5% TTO and active component terpinen-4-ol were highly effective in reducing mite survival times. Statistically significant differences in mite survival curves were observed for 5% TTO, 2.1% terpinen-4-ol, 5% permethrin, and ivermectin (100 microg/g of Emulsifying Ointment British Pharmacopoeia 88). In vivo effectiveness was also observed.

CONCLUSIONS:

Documentation of resistance against antiectoparasitic compounds is increasing. Reported S scabiei treatment failures with lindane, crotamiton, and benzyl benzoate, as well as likely emerging resistance to 5% permethrin and oral ivermectin, are of concern and advocate for the identification and development of novel acaricidal drugs. Tea tree oil is a membrane-active biocide extracted from the tree M alternifolia. It is a principal antimicrobial in a wide range of pharmaceuticals sold in Australia, with the main active component being oxygenated terpenoids. The results suggest that TTO has a potential role as a new topical acaricide and confirm terpinen-4-ol as the primary active component.

PMID:
15148100
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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