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An Bras Dermatol. 2013 May-Jun;88(3):381-5. doi: 10.1590/abd1806-4841.20131800.

Treatment of pityriasis versicolor with topical application of essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus (DC) Stapf - therapeutic pilot study.

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Federal University of Campina Grande (UFCG) - Cuité (PB), Brazil.



Pityriasis versicolor is a fungal infection caused by Malassezia spp. that has frequent relapses.


The main objective of this research was to perform phase I and II clinical studies, using formulations containing essential oil of Cymbopogon citratus in patients with pityriasis versicolor.


Phase I study included twenty volunteers to ascertain the safety of the formulations. In phase II, 47 volunteers randomly received essential oil formulations at 1.25 μL/mL concentration, for forty days. The shampoo should be applied three times a week and the cream twice a day. A control group in phase II, consisting of 29 volunteers, received the same formulations but with 2% ketoconazole as the active ingredient.


No significant adverse events were observed in volunteers during Phase I. In Phase II, 30 (63.83%) volunteers using essential oil and 18 (62.07%) using ketoconazole remained until the end of the study. We observed a predominance of lesions in disseminated form, with M. sympodialis detected as the predominant agent identified in cultures. After 40 days of treatment, the rate of mycological cure was 60% (p <0.05) for the group treated with essential oil of C. citratus and over 80% (p <0.05) for the group treated with ketoconazole formulations.


Notwithstanding the safety and antifungal effects observed in this study after application of formulations containing the essential oil of C. citratus, further studies with larger populations should be performed to confirm the actual potential of these formulations in the treatment of patients with Pityriasis versicolor.

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