An investigation and comparison of the bioactivity of selected essential oils on human lice and house dust mites

Fitoterapia. 2007 Dec;78(7-8):521-5. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2007.06.001. Epub 2007 Jul 3.


The insecticidal potency of some essential oils suggests that they may find an application in the control of house dust mites, but current in vitro assays for mites do not appear to give consistent results. A simple, novel, mite chamber assay was therefore developed to carry out testing. Different species of insects are susceptible to different essential oil components, so we compared the relative acaricidal and pediculicidal activity of three essential oils: tea tree, lavender and lemon, because the activity of their constituents on lice ranges from highly active to virtually inactive. The most effective essential oil against both lice and mites was tea tree oil; lavender was the second most effective, and lemon oil the least, although it did show activity against mites, unlike lice. The assay proved simple and effective and gave reproducible results.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Citrus
  • Dust
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Insecticides / administration & dosage
  • Insecticides / pharmacology*
  • Insecticides / therapeutic use
  • Lavandula
  • Lice Infestations / drug therapy
  • Melaleuca
  • Pediculus / drug effects*
  • Phytotherapy*
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage
  • Plant Oils / pharmacology*
  • Plant Oils / therapeutic use
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Pyroglyphidae / drug effects*
  • Scalp Dermatoses / drug therapy


  • Dust
  • Insecticides
  • Plant Oils