Clove Oil Effective Treatment for Scabies


Good news for people who suffer with scabies: Australian researchers have found that clove oil may be an effective treatment for this contagious itchy rash that affects more than 300 million people around the world.

The Itch of Scabies

Scabies, also called sarcoptic mange, is caused by a microscopic mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) that burrows into the skin, causing an allergic reaction and severe itching within several weeks. Lesions formed by scratching can lead to secondary bacterial infections, and serious complications may result, especially following Group A streptococcal infections, leading to heart and renal disease.

Human scabies is nearly always caught from another person by close contact, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, and most often occurs in crowded living conditions. Scabies mites are attracted to warmth. After the female mite lays her eggs in a human’s skin, she produces toxins that cause the allergic reactions. When the eggs hatch, the larvae travel to the surface of the skin and develop into adults. Mites that are scratched off the skin can survive in bedding for 24 hours or longer.


New Scabies Study
Researchers from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research used clove oil, ylang ylang oil, and nutmeg oil on two different types of mites. The clove oil killed all the mites within 15 minutes, according to the study’s authors.

Dr. Cielo Pasay explained that they also tested eugenol, a component that makes up 80 percent of glove oil, and other related compounds. They found that “they were comparable to an existing treatment for scabies, and could assist the development of new treatments for this irritating and disfiguring disease.”

Existing treatments for scabies include topical acaricides such as 5% permethrin, while more severe forms of the disease requires both topical and oral treatment with ivermectin. Research indicates an increasing tolerance of scabies mites to permethrin because of its widespread use. Such resistance makes finding a new effective treatment more critical.

“Our research aims to identify naturally occurring compounds that can combat scabies and prevent resistance from occurring,” noted Pasay. Use of clove oil for scabies appears to be an effective treatment for the itchy disease. Further safety and efficacy testing of eugenol-based compounds are needed, however, before clove oil treatments can become available.

American Academy of Dermatology
Pasay C et al. PLoS One 2010 Aug 18 pub