Scabies: Molecular Perspectives and Therapeutic Implications in the Face of Emerging Drug Resistance

Kate E. Mounsey; Deborah C. Holt; James McCarthy; Bart J. Currie; Shelley F. Walton


Future Microbiol. 2008;3(1):57-66. 

In This Article

Alternative Therapeutic Agents

Several natural agents with acaricidal properties have been described. These include lippia oil (Lippia multiflora),[24] camphor oil (Eucalyptus globulus)[25] and pastes of turmeric (Circuma longa) and neem (Azadirachta indica).[26] Although high cure rates (97%) were obtained with the latter, neem was found to have little acaricidal properties in vitro.[27]

One promising new treatment is tea tree oil. Derived from Melaleuca alternifolia, tea tree oil is a traditional Australian Aboriginal medicine used for skin infections and insect bites, and this essential oil has demonstrated antimicrobial activity.[28] However, its potential as an antiparasitic had not been explored until recently. In vitro studies revealed that at a concentration of 5%, tea tree oil had excellent acaricidal properties.[29] In current treatment protocols for crusted scabies at Royal Darwin Hospital (Australia), benzyl benzoate ointment is supplemented with 5% tea tree oil.[30] Not only is this a potent combination in vitro,[29] but the addition of tea tree oil helps to reduce the significant irritation experienced with benzyl benzoate [Unpublished Data]. However, more data regarding the safety and in vivo efficacy of topical tea tree oil through clinical trials are required before its widespread promotion as a therapeutic agent for scabies can occur.


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