Researching accessible and affordable treatment for common dermatological problems in developing countries. An Ethiopian experience

Int J Dermatol. 2012 Jul;51(7):790-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2011.05235.x.


Background: Skin diseases are very common in rural and urban areas of Ethiopia, and traditional preparations of plant origin might represent the only alternative to synthetic drugs. Improving knowledge of traditional medicines and assessing their safety and effectiveness is necessary.

Methods: We conducted a two-arm, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial assessing the efficacy of some cosmetic herbal preparations for common dermatologic problems: a 3% thyme essential oil antifungal cream and a 10% chamomile extract cream for eczema-like lesions.

Results: Ten subjects (66.5%) treated with the 3% thyme active cream were completely healed vs. four subjects (28.5%) from the placebo group (P=0.040). A large number of subjects treated with the chamomile cream were healed or improved, but no significant differences were found between active cream and placebo. A high rate of treatment acceptance was registered in both groups, no adverse effects were reported.

Conclusions: A 3% thyme essential oil cream could represent a cheap and easily available opportunity to treat and heal mild to moderate cases of fungal infections; a common emollient cream could be a very effective intervention when treating mild to moderate cases of pityriasis alba and eczema-like lesions. Further research is needed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Chamomile
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Dermatomycoses / drug therapy
  • Developing Countries* / economics
  • Eczema / drug therapy
  • Ethiopia
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Medicine, African Traditional* / economics
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Phytotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Phytotherapy* / economics
  • Pityriasis / drug therapy
  • Plant Preparations / adverse effects
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use*
  • Thymus Plant
  • Young Adult


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Plant Preparations