Dr Cielo Pasay said that plant essential oils have long been studied for their effects against mites, ticks, lice and mosquitoes.
“Essential oils and their active chemical components have long been proven to be effective against animal parasites such as cattle ticks, sheep ticks, and rabbit mites. Our research is applying this theory to the human scabies mite,” said Dr Pasay from QIMR’s Clinical Tropical Medicine Laboratory.
Scabies (also called sarcoptic mange) is an itchy rash caused by the scabies mite (Sarcoptes scabiei), which burrows under the skin to lay its eggs.
Researchers tested the clove oil, nutmeg oil and ylang ylang oil on two different types of mites in the laboratory to see how many died from contact with the oils.
“We tested the oils on the mites, and found that clove oil killed all the mites within 15 minutes.
Clove oil is commonly used as an aromatherapy oil and was used as an anaesthetic for dental procedures.
“We also tested eugenol, which makes up 80% of clove oil, and its related compounds for their effects on the mites and found they were comparable to an existing treatment for scabies, and could assist the development of new treatments for this irritating and disfiguring disease.
“The importance of this research is that the scabies mite has become increasingly resistant to current treatments, especially in Northern Australia where scabies is common. Our research aims to identify naturally occurring compounds that can combat scabies and prevent resistance from occurring.”